News New Belgium Brewing Becomes 100% Employee-Owned Company

Discussion in 'Beer News & Releases' started by Todd, Jan 15, 2013.

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  1. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,474) Aug 23, 1996 California

    ESOP purchases remainder of founder’s shares as company looks to future

    (FORT COLLINS, CO) January 15, 2013 - New Belgium Brewing is excited to announce that the company’s Employee Stock Ownership Program (ESOP) has purchased the balance of company shares, making it 100% employee-owned. New Belgium, brewer of a wide variety of award-winning beers including Fat Tire Amber Ale, has been a partial ESOP since 2000 with a controlling interest held by co-founder Kim Jordan and her family. This transition will put the company on a path to control their destiny into the foreseeable future.

    “There are few times in life where you get to make choices that will have multi-generational impact - this is one of those times. We have an opportunity to write the next chapter of this incredible story and we’re really excited about that,” said New Belgium CEO and co-founder, Kim Jordan. “We have always had a high involvement ownership culture and this allows us to take that to the next logical level. It will provide an elegant succession framework that keeps the executive team in tact ensuring our vision stays true going forward.”

    Jordan plans to remain CEO for the long-term and the executive team at New Belgium will continue in its current form. The Fort Collins brewer is currently building a second facility in Asheville, North Carolina that will begin beer production in 2015. More than 150 additional hires are expected by full build out in Asheville.

    New Belgium was advised by Eureka Capital Markets, a middle market investment-banking firm with expertise in both the food & beverage sector and ESOP transactions, which assisted in structuring and completing the second stage ESOP buyout transaction.

    “It was an honor to work with a craft brewing leader like New Belgium and help them transition the ownership of the business to its tight culture of employee owners,” said Michael Harden, Managing Director. “Given all of the consolidation occurring in the craft brew sector, we expect that many other craft brewers will investigate how using an ESOP might help them achieve their transition goals while enabling them to remain independent companies.”

    The Fort Collins brewer is currently building a second facility in Asheville, North Carolina that will begin beer production in 2015. The transition to 100% ownership will enable New Belgium to include their future co-workers in Asheville, NC in the plan and will drive an even deeper commitment to progressive business practices for the company. More than 150 additional hires are expected by full build out in Asheville.

    The deal was completed on the 28th of December with a companywide announcement made during New Belgium’s annual winter retreat on the 14th of January. All 456 employee-owners were present for the celebration. Prior to this deal, New Belgium co-workers held 41% of the company’s shares.

    About New Belgium Brewing Company
    New Belgium Brewing Company, makers of Fat Tire Amber Ale and a host of Belgian-inspired beers, began operations in a tiny Fort Collins basement in 1991. Today, the third largest craft brewer in the U.S., New Belgium produces nine year-round beers; Fat Tire Amber Ale, Sunshine Wheat, Blue Paddle Pilsner, 1554 Black Ale, Abbey, Ranger, Belgo IPA, Shift Pale Lager and Trippel, as well as a host of seasonal releases. In addition to producing world-class beers, New Belgium takes pride in being a responsible corporate role model with progressive programs such as employee ownership, open book management and a commitment to environmental stewardship. For more information, visit

  2. fmccormi

    fmccormi Meyvn (1,330) Oct 24, 2010 California
    Beer Trader

    That is awesome. Really, really awesome. The more I learn about New Belgium as a company, the more I respect them (as a company) and would be happy to support them. They really do appear to be the model business, especially in brewing, ranging from sustainability initiatives to business ethics and employee relations. Outside Magazine regularly places them very high up on their Best Places to Work list, and it does sound like a great operation they've got there. Being 100% employee-owned now is even better.

    And, I generally really like their beer, so y'know. Win-win.
    Providence, JimKal and Ricelikesbeer like this.
  3. otispdriftwood

    otispdriftwood Defender (637) Dec 9, 2011 Colorado
    Beer Trader

    This is the type of brewery I want to support [as long as they don't sell out to InBev].
  4. jacksback

    jacksback Initiate (0) Jul 20, 2011 Massachusetts

    Good stuff, good for them.
    Providence likes this.
  5. Boski

    Boski Initiate (0) Jan 15, 2013 North Carolina

    Working on the wholesale side of the craft beer industry I can say every New Belgium employee I have met seems to love working there. ESOP's are the only way any company can operate in the TRUE best interest of the brand and employees IMHO. With the exception of a few good CEO's out there... and I emphasize few. Once an employee has been there 5 years New Belgium sends them on a all expenses paid drinking trip to Belgium to discover the beer culture that inspired the company's creation. Keeping your employees involved and giving them a sense of empowerment that they have a voice in the company is a great model to follow if you want to retain and develop quality workers that will have your company's best interest in mind. New Belgium is a great business model to follow for small or mid sized craft breweries who want to mass produce... if that is there "thing".

    Also as a North Carolinian I am stoked to visit NB's new tasting room in Asheville once they open!
  6. Ricelikesbeer

    Ricelikesbeer Zealot (582) Nov 29, 2006 Colorado

    I think it's great that they treat their employees so well. They are always on the top 10 lists for best companies in the U.S. Now, 150 more lucky employees will get to take part in a great brewery and company! I can't wait to see what new lips of faith stuff comes out the next few years.
  7. Ricelikesbeer

    Ricelikesbeer Zealot (582) Nov 29, 2006 Colorado

    The fact that they are 100% employee owned would lead me to believe that that will never happen... Unless all of their employees suddenly forgot what the whole thing is about.
  8. otispdriftwood

    otispdriftwood Defender (637) Dec 9, 2011 Colorado
    Beer Trader

    I should have put a "wink wink" in my original post.
    fmccormi likes this.
  9. Ricelikesbeer

    Ricelikesbeer Zealot (582) Nov 29, 2006 Colorado

    Yeah perhaps, since unfortunately, it looks like inbev will be aggressively trying to buy out craft brewers. (i.e. goose island.)
  10. MeadGuyfromMD

    MeadGuyfromMD Aspirant (215) May 23, 2007 Maryland

    I like to see employees take ownership at their place of employment. This is a shining example.

    Cranberry Compliment - People love to say Fat Tire is old news, yada yada New Belgium grumble grumble. Fat Tire may be long in the tooth, but it has been a terrific segway for macro drinkers and has always been a consistently, well brewed beer. They have expanded greatly, to some very interesting things like the LoF series, tasty seasonals, Amazing collaborations and their awesome sustainability model. Overall, New Belgium is probably one of the best run craftbeer companies in the country.

    Cheers to Ms. Jordan and the entire New Belgium crew!
    luwak likes this.
  11. HoptimusMax1mus

    HoptimusMax1mus Disciple (305) Jul 10, 2012 Arizona

    That is awesome. I love a few of their beers and still have some to try!
  12. j-rod18

    j-rod18 Aspirant (284) Dec 13, 2012 North Dakota

    that's awesome...their beer is good, and their business plan even better. much respect, will definitely be purchasing their product more often

    ps the red hoptober is fantastic. everyone should try it
    HoptimusMax1mus likes this.
  13. bulldogbrewhaus

    bulldogbrewhaus Initiate (0) Sep 17, 2012 Virginia

    I really like everything about NB. Their spring seasonal Dig is my go to pale ale.
  14. Boozledooz

    Boozledooz Initiate (0) Jul 8, 2011 Colorado

    Doesn't Kim Jordan as an employee still likely own over 50% of the shares?
  15. JNauser

    JNauser Initiate (0) Oct 17, 2012 Missouri
    Beer Trader

    I toured the brewery and it's amazing what they do for their employees. They had a guy that basically has worked there since the start and they asked him what he wanted for his whatever year anniversary with the company and he said a rock wall, so they built a rock wall in the bottling room.
    DanK4, Hanzo, j-rod18 and 1 other person like this.
  16. flayedandskinned

    flayedandskinned Initiate (0) Jan 1, 2011 California
    Beer Trader

    Good for them. Surprised that they haven't sold out to BMC.
  17. DelMontiac

    DelMontiac Initiate (0) Oct 22, 2010 Oklahoma

    NB has always been a well run company producing great products. NB was one of the very first craft breweries to get my attention. Now they just need to wise up and ship to their neighboring state of Oklahoma. Since OK does not allow refrigeration in liquor stores, NB won't sell here. However...every state in which I have purchased NB products (including CO) keeps them all at room temp. We don't have fridges in our liquor stores, but we do have money as it's pretty inexpensive to live here. It would make us happy if the shareholders would consider us in the near future.
  18. dcloeren

    dcloeren Defender (634) Sep 15, 2010 Texas
    Beer Trader

    I had a blast on their tour and it gave me a renewed appreciation for their beers. They are an amazing company and one I definitely plan to continue supporting.
  19. UCLABrewN84

    UCLABrewN84 Poo-Bah (12,433) Mar 18, 2010 California

    A heartwarming tale.
  20. carteravebrew

    carteravebrew Zealot (510) Jan 21, 2010 Colorado

    You mean this thing (background)?
    JNauser and hiphopj5 like this.
  21. Wildeman

    Wildeman Initiate (0) Dec 19, 2012 Michigan

    Just heard about this, good for New Belgium. They are doing solid brews and they've got my support!
  22. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,346) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    So who was bought out to make it 100% employee owned? Kim Jordan would be an employee as CEO.
  23. spoony

    spoony Poo-Bah (2,156) Aug 1, 2012 Colorado
    Premium Member Beer Trader

    Kim Jordan (and her family) were bought out as individual shareholders. Kim, as CEO may still own shares, but she is part of the same plan that the remaining employees are part of.

    My guess is that the shares formerly owned by Jordan (and fam) are now owned jointly by the employees through an ESOP trust. In other words, the individual employees do not own transferrable shares, but they are given restricted shares as part of their compensation. The ESOP trust will purchase the shares in the event the employee separates his/her employment.
    jesskidden likes this.
  24. StubFaceJoe

    StubFaceJoe Initiate (0) Nov 24, 2011 Colorado

    It's funny. My lady did the tour on Friday, and they were boasting about being mostly employee owned. Things happen quick.

    PS They are also awesome cause they give out LOADS of beer when you do the tour AND growler fills are super cheap.
  25. BetterBeerPlz

    BetterBeerPlz Aspirant (227) Sep 8, 2007 Arkansas

    I love Ranger, but wish they made a DIPA . . .
    Andwoo and craigo19 like this.
  26. UCLABrewN84

    UCLABrewN84 Poo-Bah (12,433) Mar 18, 2010 California

  27. BetterBeerPlz

    BetterBeerPlz Aspirant (227) Sep 8, 2007 Arkansas

    Yeah, I meant year round. Our craft selection is generally weak, but NB beer is becoming more available in my area. We could use some more DIPA options.
  28. luwak

    luwak Aspirant (269) Mar 2, 2010 Arizona
    Beer Trader

    Wonderful news. NB is one model of a craft brewery could aspire to i think.

    A close friend of mine did a tour there 5 years ago and she said every employee seemed super proud to work there and they all had "all access" regardless of their "title". She said everybody was proud of their alternative energy model and how clean and organized the building was.

    Obviously the company gives away tons of money and seems eager to support many causes about which they feel passionate, The Tour De Fat is a great example as all the proceeds go to local, mostly non profit groups in each city where the tour stops. Sure its good publicity for the brewery but it feels very honest even if it has become somewhat cheesy over the years.

    The beers NB makes are all over the map and represent many styles but some are definitely great. Their unintended flagship, Fat Tire, has nearly played the role in the 2000s that Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Boston/Sam Adam Boston Lager played in the 1990s as a gateway beer. And for that we all owe NB some thanks.

    This is a great move for the company and really a good day for American midsized/small business: To think that a successful company could grow large in its industry while staying focused on its core ideals and then end up 100 percent employee-owned is like a dream come true for some kind of sanity in macro capitalism.

    This thread is the best thing I've seen on BA in a long time.
  29. ImperialStoat

    ImperialStoat Aspirant (246) May 20, 2009 Ireland
    Beer Trader

    So the workers own the means of production? Well isn't that something.
    longbongsilver likes this.
  30. Andy915

    Andy915 Initiate (0) Dec 17, 2010 Texas

    They built a rock wall for one of the employees!? Thats bad ass!
  31. FlagRanger

    FlagRanger Initiate (0) Jan 22, 2013

    Keep your eyes (and liver) open for a new release Imperial IPA in March... year around availability, with plenty of hops for your drinking pleasure
  32. ystazi

    ystazi Zealot (518) Jan 5, 2010 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    Good for them. I just don't think anything is going to change. It seems that the CEO/Founder and her family will still have a controlling share of the ESOP, so the only change is that they are going to save money on taxes.
    jesskidden likes this.
  33. BetterBeerPlz

    BetterBeerPlz Aspirant (227) Sep 8, 2007 Arkansas

    Thanks, that is great news!
  34. Providence

    Providence Initiate (0) Feb 24, 2010 Rhode Island

    Kick ass. Way to go NB!
  35. SunDevilBeer

    SunDevilBeer Zealot (555) May 9, 2003 Massachusetts

    Great news. Now hurry up & get that new NC brewery built. Anxious to regularly drink Ranger IPA in 12 packs here in MA.
  36. tjensen3618

    tjensen3618 Initiate (0) Mar 23, 2008 California

    It doesn't give too much away, but it's an 8.5% abv DIPA in 12oz bottles. If this goes in six packs at around $10, I'll buy a bunch of it!

    Andwoo and BetterBeerPlz like this.
  37. Andwoo

    Andwoo Initiate (0) Sep 21, 2010 Texas

    Just FYI, you should see this hit your market the week of March 1st. Should be around $9.99 for a sixer. Just tried the final version and its amazing. Big mango\blueberry ipa. Mosaic and Calypso hops. Stoked.
    tjensen3618 likes this.
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