I usually focus on Washington beer news. I occasionally talk about Northwest beer news. This is neither. This is just big news for the American craft beer scene as a whole.
New Belgium Brewing announced today that is is now 100 percent employee-owned. The company’s Employee Stock Ownership Program (ESOP) recently purchased the balance of shares, making the company entirely employee owned. Having met a few different New Belgium employees, I know they take great pride in the beer pumped out by the brewery. Now I suppose it is official: it is their brewery. Beyond the great beer, there are many reasons to like New Belgium Brewing. I suppose this news is just one more of those.
Below is the press release from New Belgium.
New Belgium Brewing Becomes 100% Employee-Owned Company
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 www.newbelgium.com.