30 Workers Laid Off Following New Belgium and Bell’s Merger

Discussion in 'Beer News & Releases' started by SFACRKnight, Apr 16, 2022.

  1. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Poo-Bah (2,023) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado
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    https://www.brewbound.com/news/30-workers-laid-off-following-new-belgium-and-bells-merger/

    Looks like the first victims of a fairly large merger have come to the surface. Probably going to be more on the way.
     
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  2. Jus3102

    Jus3102 Initiate (15) Apr 16, 2022 California
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    That’s a shame but, depending how they are reorganizing, it’s probably just eliminating positions that became redundant. Lots of administrative positions would be my guess for now.
     
  3. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (3,373) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois
    Society

    Having survived one re-org, but not the next, I can speak from experience: they suck.

    Company I was working at was the golden goose of Wall Street at the time, and had been in business for about five decades, but they couldn't ride the economic waves of the day without tossing off "extra weight." Sad circumstance for me and many others.

    That company is still in business, had been adding new people recently, but I can't tell you if they're still providing the same quality service anymore.
     
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  4. HouseofWortship

    HouseofWortship Meyvn (1,322) May 3, 2016 Illinois
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    Let’s hope they don’t start standardizing the cost efficiency systems with the hops. “It’s redundant usingall these different hops, let’s just use the same ones.” Don’t want my Two Hearted tasting like Voodoo Ranger.
     
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  5. Resistance88

    Resistance88 Disciple (354) Apr 9, 2015 California
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    :sunglasses:ISO: any and all expedition before they fuck it all off
     
  6. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (3,373) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois
    Society

    I guess I really ought to finally break down and try that now. :confused:
     
  7. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,426) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    Yeah, "just" --- unless it's your livelihood.
    That's not how the Brewbound article tells it.
    But, wait:
    "Invited to apply". Fuck you, Kirin. I mean, sure, lot's of folks probably wouldn't want a transfer to a region they have no background with or for family reasons, etc. But, damn, you layoff people and "invite" them to apply to open positions with the same company?
     
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  8. crazyspicychef

    crazyspicychef Disciple (339) Sep 27, 2012 Pennsylvania

    I can almost guarantee you that Bells' beer quality will suffer.
    The same happened to every other good brewery that got bought out.
    Not drastic changes, but definitely subtle differences that they are cheapening up the batches, while putting it on tap everywhere as the flavor of the week.
    Sure, they will taste better than a Coor's Light, but every beer I've tried from bought out breweries just seems to lose something.
    It could all be in my head, but I know others who feel the same.
    I guess after years of stress & toil, and one day a big wad of cash walks through the door, it must be hard to pass up?
     
  9. Jus3102

    Jus3102 Initiate (15) Apr 16, 2022 California
    Trader

    yeah, couldn’t read the article but that’s insightful. If it was mostly sales people at this point , all the administrative stuff will follow as they combine hr, accounting, and other aspects into a more centralized model. It’s going to get a lot worse.
    I’d love to believe the beer will maintain quality but I always felt New Belgium had been declining for years before they sold out to lion and made pushed all their effort into the Voodoo line. Realistically it is pretty much a given Bells will follow that same path. Probably will be structured to focus on Oberon and Two Hearted as brand extensions (already was underway in the case of the latter).
     
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  10. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Poo-Bah (2,023) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado
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    Exactly. That's a low blow.
     
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  11. zid

    zid Poo-Bah (1,726) Feb 15, 2010 New York
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    And the former. Wouldn't be anything new.
     
  12. HorseheadsHophead

    HorseheadsHophead Poo-Bah (2,399) Sep 15, 2014 Colorado
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  13. Squire

    Squire Poo-Bah (2,735) Jul 16, 2015 Mississippi
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    Get ready for marketing of "new and improved" brews.
     
  14. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,426) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    Yup:

    "New" = New owners
    "Improved" = Improved profit margin for the above
     
  15. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Poo-Bah (1,874) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan
    Society

    Hard to say if Bell's quality will suffer. They have a very capable lab and QA. John Mallet is still the director of brewing operations. Oh he leaves, then i would have my judging skills turned on when drinking Bell's beers.
     
  16. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Poo-Bah (2,023) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado
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    I just want to say that it seems your posts are always impartial and unbiased. I enjoy seeing some passion there JK!!!!
     
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  17. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (3,373) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois
    Society

    He always takes the side of the working man.
     
  18. GetMeAnIPA

    GetMeAnIPA Crusader (726) Mar 28, 2009 California

    I work at corporation that is nation wide. They did a realignment in which districts merged. As a result they condensed the sales force in a similar fashion. A voluntary severance package was offered to avoid forced layoffs. A friend of mine was given two weeks. He found his position posted online and applied. He ended up getting his job back. That makes no sense what’s so ever!
     
  19. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (3,373) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois
    Society

    At the large company where I worked there was a lot of talk about this sort of experience being possible, based on past examples, and I had an inkling of hope. But it never happened.

    Funny thing is, I still get email notifications about job openings in my field and just saw an offering that was, practically, my old position. My wife asked if I was going to apply... I gave it some thought. :wink:

    And then thought about doing all I could to muck with their system. :wink:

    But I shouldn't complain -- after 3 years there I got better severance than I did after 13 in a company I helped build from little known to reputable in their biz.
     
  20. GetMeAnIPA

    GetMeAnIPA Crusader (726) Mar 28, 2009 California

    that would be the evil genius play!

    this one friend is the only instance of that happening. However, there are a lot of people that I don’t know.

    Glad to hear that at the end there was some good news.
     
    startingatBeer-30 and steveh like this.
  21. GABronco

    GABronco Initiate (68) Mar 6, 2022

    I hate comments like "just some administrative type positions." As someone who works in support function (finance) it's exhausting always trying to justify your existence. Forget the fact that under US laws, finance is responsible to ensure companies publish accurate reporting that keeps people out of jail. I've gone through mergers and every time I've seen coworkers let go because "hey--both companies have a business controller, why do we need 2? They aren't making product, they just cost money, right?!" And then one person has to do the job of 2 people.

    Just because you don't know what certain jobs do, don't assume they're sitting on their thumbs all day waiting for someone to give them a task to work on. I'll put most CFOs in that bucket of people who have no idea what the finance teams below them are actually doing. I think anyone in IT, Supply Chain, or HR also understands what I describe. Anyway--I'm obviously pretty sensitive on this topic, so rant over.

    I will add I feel terrible for the 30 people (mostly Sales, it sounds like) who just lost their jobs just so the people at the top of the pyramid can collect a bigger bonus.
     
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  22. BillAfromSoCal

    BillAfromSoCal Devotee (463) Aug 24, 2020 California

    I was at a company that did a variant of that following a massive merger. Being a cynical old fart I could chalk it up to that management being too cowardly to actually lay off individuals. It was much easier just to tell EVERYONE they had to interview for their jobs again. Apparently it was much less personal pain for managers to tell the "unselected" employees that they did not get their old job back job, rather than tell them that they were being laid off. If you wanna be in management and get the management perks then have the huevos to deliver the bad news for what it is instead of hiding behind MBA-speak. And, no, I'm not harboring a grudge....I was "awarded" my job, but the practice still sucked, IMO..
     
  23. Resistance88

    Resistance88 Disciple (354) Apr 9, 2015 California
    Trader

    I don't see good things coming for Bells :sob:

    New Belgium is booboo now in the sense they dont even maKe stouts and shit like Accumulation and 1554 barely sees distro. What stouts do they make? Idk
    Lips Of Faith even a thing?

    seems like beer is going full circle again.
    Macro>micro>craft> buy out> trash
     
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  24. md3kcn

    md3kcn Devotee (442) Feb 4, 2021 North Carolina
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    On the other hand, Two Hearted tasting like 1554 may be interesting...
     
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  25. ManBearPat

    ManBearPat Zealot (528) Dec 2, 2014 Colorado

    ***30 employees so far.

     
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  26. russpowell

    russpowell Poo-Bah (11,956) May 24, 2005 Arkansas
    Society Trader

    Always seems to be the way of these mergers. New Belgium was employee owned at one point. Sad
     
  27. bubseymour

    bubseymour Poo-Bah (3,391) Oct 30, 2010 Maryland
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    Usually in these mergers/buyouts, the day 1- 2 weeks the majority of senior leadership from the company bought out leaves (usually because they can cash out and have a great severance so they don’t have to work for 6-12 months min.) the staff remaining is operating without a rudder for months and as others leave for various reasons, those remaining in management jockey and play office politics to survive and the staff remaining have to work harder /longer to figure out what the new leadership wants from them.
     
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  28. bubseymour

    bubseymour Poo-Bah (3,391) Oct 30, 2010 Maryland
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    A lot of times the old CEO being bought out will get paid a ton in the merger but also kept on in a consulting role. Usually making deep six figures, but basically doing nothing but sitting in a few meetings a week while allowing the new leadership to pick his brain until they have all they need, then let him go a few months later.
     
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  29. bubseymour

    bubseymour Poo-Bah (3,391) Oct 30, 2010 Maryland
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    I’m drinking a New Belgium (Kirin owned) Voodoo Ranger Juicy Haze right now. I’ve had this beer several times over the last couple years and it still tastes delicious. May be my favorite wide Distro NEIPA. If Kirin leadership tinkered with it, I can’t tell. Hopefully they leave Bells beer making alone as well.
     
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  30. Squire

    Squire Poo-Bah (2,735) Jul 16, 2015 Mississippi
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    Good post. You know whereof you speak and you speak truth.
     
  31. officerbill

    officerbill Savant (958) Feb 9, 2019 New York
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    Often there is a legal reason behind this.
    Laying off an entire department/region helps when a former employee complains to DoL “I was chosen for lay off because I'm 55/black/woman/Muslim/union/etc”. When IBM had massive lay offs here there were a lot of age discrimination complaints

    It can also a way to reward long time employees. When a local grocery chain was bought out all of the employees were laid off and invited to reapply. The new owners brought in people from their other locations as store & dept managers and this made sure none of the “new” employees were senior to the transfers.
     
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  32. Domingo

    Domingo Poo-Bah (2,772) Apr 23, 2005 Colorado
    Society

    For what it's worth, I don't think NB's quality has suffered one bit. The brew team over there feels the same way, too. That said, they've eschewed the "Belgium" half of their name more and more. They still have their aged sour single bottles (which are overpriced compared to similar options IMO) and the two tripels. Otherwise, they might as well just rename the place to the "Voodoo Ranger Brewery." That's what sells, so I can't really even blame them, though.
     
  33. JZH1000

    JZH1000 Aspirant (243) Nov 7, 2021 Colorado

    I'm new to the beer scene admittedly, but by the time I had my first fat tire less than a year ago, I knew that I liked darker beers, and I had recently enjoyed Alaskan amber, so I got fat tire thinking it's a big colorado craft brand that everybody seems to like so it's gotta be good. It struck me as boring amd lacking even malty flavors.

    It's just boring and since then I've had a bad impression of new belgium. Especially just seeing fat tire neons and giant voodoo ranger billboards as their marketing. Other than their belgian line that I've only just been seeing more of recently, I honestly don't know what else they make right now.

    Now I neverreally got Into bells, and have only had 2 Hearted once or twice so I can't really talk on them. I just know that all I can ever find in stores from them is the stout rarely and 2 hearted.
     
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  34. BillAfromSoCal

    BillAfromSoCal Devotee (463) Aug 24, 2020 California

    No personal offense to you but I call BS on the whole "legal reason" excuse. If a manager does what they are responsible for doing, including thorough documentation of job performance in sufficient detail to justify why employee "A" is selected over employee "B" then the need for attorneys disappears (hurrah!). Employees should know where they stand in the performance assessment by management, where they have deficiencies relative to others, and what they need to do to improve, including benchmarks for comparison, and frequent review of progress toward goals if they are on an improvement plan. I have worked for 43 years and have seen loads of "management" who love the titles and compensation and the perks but not the responsibilities. No employee should ever be surprised to learn they have not been selected for further employment. The time to whine about perceived bias and discrimination is long before the layoff notices come out becasue the employee should already have a long-standing understanding of how much they are valued (or not) by management.
     
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  35. Ricelikesbeer

    Ricelikesbeer Devotee (494) Nov 29, 2006 Colorado
    Trader

    I don't know a whole lot about Bell's culture/ stance on mergers ect. But New Belgium has been a staple in Colorado as an employee owned gem that, in the past anyway, woudln't have been open to such a change. I wonder what happened to that stance?

    And I agree with you after watching what happened to my old favorite Avery-... once they were bought they sure did ramp up the selzers.. (insert random fruit here)- beers and anything else that could possibly appeal to the mainstream while losing their core business like myself who loved their old "extreme" high octane and hoppy stuff.
     
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  36. moodenba

    moodenba Zealot (552) Feb 2, 2015 New York

    That employee-ownership model worked for those employees for a while. The majority were apparently happy to sell to Kirin/Lion. They may have been considering the uncertain profits ahead in an unstable craft brewery market versus an immediate cash payment.
    https://www.nceo.org/article/end-employee-ownership-new-belgium-brewing
     
  37. russpowell

    russpowell Poo-Bah (11,956) May 24, 2005 Arkansas
    Society Trader

    Good read.
     
  38. Ricelikesbeer

    Ricelikesbeer Devotee (494) Nov 29, 2006 Colorado
    Trader

    thanks for sharing. Looks like I'm a bit late on the breaking news that they sold the brewery haha. I'm sure being 100% employee owned is great until a big conglomerate shows you a large check for your shares in the company... I find it sad that this is where craft beer appears to be headed though- buyouts, mergers, etc. the brands certainly suffer when this happens as we pointed out earlier.
     
  39. officerbill

    officerbill Savant (958) Feb 9, 2019 New York
    Society Trader

    Maybe in an ideal world.
    What's a new owner/management team to do when the goal is to reduce the number of employees, reduce the average salary, increase the percentage of “diverse” employees, and assimilate the employees into the culture of their new employers?

    Again, I'm not talking about current owners who want to cut a handful of positions or weed out under performers; you're documentation works fine for that so long as supervisors & HR aren't too obvious about targeting.

    I'm referring to new owners/management where all of the current employees have been receiving satisfactory evaluations & meeting assigned goals; there are no performance issues to use as grounds for termination.

    You can't legally get rid of a worker due to age, sex, or race and most CBA's (and some states) are “last in, first out” when it comes to layoffs.

    Your choices are, pretty much, lay off however many junior employees you need to reach your payroll goal (without meeting other goals) or lay off everyone and start over.

    You have more flexibility in hiring so it is easier just to offer appropriate severance packages and get rid of the entire department, do some reorganization, then hire “new” staff more in line with your workforce vision and preferred salary.

    You're new owners, do you really want to defend against labor complaints or lawsuits claiming age discrimination because rules were only being enforced and documented against older employees and those senior higher paid employees were the only ones who lost their jobs?
     
    #39 officerbill, Apr 21, 2022
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2022
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  40. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,426) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    Yeah, it's a bitch, alright. Workers have rights and there are some (but not nearly enough) laws that protect them and their jobs - laws that are not well-enforced and full of loopholes, as your posts above clearly outline.

    Perhaps those who voiced opposition to the layoffs in this thread recall reading comments like these from Larry Bell:

    "The purpose (of the sale to Kirin/Lion Little World) is to not make less beer and have less employees, it’s the exact opposite."
    --- Detroit Free Press

    "I know I have found in Lion and New Belgium true partners – and beer lovers – who value the Bell’s brand, employees, culture and places we call home."
    ---
    https://bellsbeer.com/a-letter-from-larry-bell-to-kalamazoo (<no longer on Bell's site, viewable on Wayback Machine and other sources, like Moody Market)

    “This isn’t a money grab. It’s not a hostile takeover. This is a rational, mature adult decision that I feel is the best thing for the company and my employees.”
    “I really wanted to make sure that Bell’s would get transitioned to a good company to carry on the legacy of brewing and community commitment and valued employees."
    --- Brewbound

    I imagine some of the laid-off employees recall them well. Were they naive to believe those statements? Sure. But they were likely hopeful, too.