What can you do with a recreation degree?

How one grad started a brewing company.

Oh the places you’ll go!

You’ve heard that, right? That education can take you places? Well, it’s true. Though sometimes where you end up is different from where you expect.

Jon working at the restaurant bar, his office space, at Elora Brewing Company.

Jonathan Laurencic (BA, 2010) is co-Founder and Director of Operations for Elora Brewing Company – a brewery, restaurant, and beer distributor 30 minutes from the University of Waterloo campus. Jon is also a grad from Applied Health Sciences’ Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies.

Wait? What?! How did that happen?

The path to Elora

In 2013, Jon was considering doing a PhD at Waterloo. He had some time off between semesters and started thinking about the future. Some of his friends had started a craft brewery and the whole idea inspired Jon. So he wrote a business plan for what eventually became Elora Brewing Co. "I wanted to be my own boss," he notes. "And I really had an appreciation for craft beer. I met some other people who were interested in starting something in Elora and that was it!"

The beer bottle labeling machine at Elora Brewing Company. 

The things Jon learned at Waterloo helped him launch and run Elora Brewing.

The Recreation program gave me the skills to think critically, solve problems creatively, make sure the departments and people in our business are communicating and working properly. But the thing that was ingrained – and that I use all the time in our business – is focusing on customer needs.

In Recreation and Leisure Studies, a needs-based approach means making sure sport and wellness programs put people first, so you deliver what customers actually need and want. The same is true at Elora Brewing. Jon and the other founders think about the food and the beer in terms of what’s a good fit, and what’s needed. "We focus on quality, on providing a place for the community, and delivering what people want," says Jon.

The Waterloo experience

As for his time at Waterloo, Jon says, "It’s everything. I don’t think I’d be in the same position if I didn’t have my experience at Waterloo. It’s shaped how I approach my life, my business. I grew the most as a person when I was there. I gained confidence, honed my focus, and figured out what I was good at."

Jon talking to one of the company's brewers.

Jon gives a special shout-out to his professors.

The profs in Recreation and Leisure Studies want the best for you. But I have to say Ron McCarville and Luke Potwarka really stand out for me.

"They were on my side, always pointed out new opportunities, and that helped me build my confidence. I try use a similar mentoring approach with our employees here at Elora Brewing."

When you’re at Waterloo, get your hands dirty. Take advantage of all opportunities in front of you. Be present! That’s how you’ll find your passion.

Learn more about Waterloo's Recreation and Leisure Studies and Recreation and Sport Business majors.