In a move that defies the market trend of large breweries buying smaller breweries and offering, arguably, better benefits, Left Hand Brewing is an anomaly. They will be offering an employee ownership stock program, where employees can buy part of the company. Earlier this year Full Sail Brewing opted out of it’s ESOP when they sold out to a private equity firm.
So why does this even matter? Left Hand Brewing is following other ESOP breweries, like New Belgium Brewing, and cashing in on their success by giving back to their employees. They are showing that working for the smaller breweries can be advantageous for employees and that going big isn’t always the best move. As we’ve noted the diversity in the craft beer market is what will sustain it well into the future. If we don’t protect the diversity of the craft beer market things may get ugly. Let’s hope moves like this are a trend!
The full press release is below.
Longmont, CO — Amidst the craft brewing industry buzz of big-beer buyouts, Left Hand Brewing Company is taking the future of their brewery into their own hands. As part of their vision statement, to be a brewery of broad employee ownership, Left Hand has been progressively moving towards and planning for an employee stock ownership plan of succession. Today, the brewery announced that after years in development, it has finalized the repurchase of common shares from current stockholders and has established the Left Hand Brewing Company Employee Stock Ownership Plan, solidifying their investment in employee ownership.
Left Hand was founded by Eric Wallace and Dick Doore in Longmont, CO in 1993. Over the years, the brewery has experienced many challenges and rewards, from early success and industry consolidation to its steady growth into the regional-sized brewery it is today. Twenty-two years later, Left Hand has built a strong business foundation with an award-winning portfolio of beer and a team of over one hundred employees, producing 74.5K bbls while giving $449K back to the community in 2014.
Under Left Hand’s new employee ownership plan, the brewery will contribute stock to the ESOP trust with each eligible employee receiving an annual allocation. “Our intent is to reward employees and foster an ownership mentality, encouraging team members to contribute to and participate in Left Hand’s long-term success,” commented Eric Wallace, co-founder & CEO.
Joining a small handful of US craft breweries including New Belgium, Deschutes, & Harpoon, Left Hand is choosing the path of independence and empowering its brewery from within. Per the brewery’s vision statement & core values, the ESOP will help to cultivate long-term service, promote responsibility and trust in all relationships and create a sense of pride in the workplace.
“It’s not about maximizing immediate financial return. We have a longer view. Money is only a tool to serve our greater mission,” states Wallace. “Left Hand is about brewing great beer, giving back to our community, and perpetuating a participative employee culture. With the implementation of the ESOP, it is our resolve to keep our vision alive and prosperous.”
About Left Hand Brewing Company
Celebrating twenty-two years of brewing a well-balanced portfolio of craft beers, Left Hand Brewing Company is located at 1265 Boston Avenue in Longmont, Colorado. Left Hand is one of the most honored and recognized breweries in the state, with over 24 Great American Beer Festival medals, 9 World Beer Cup awards, and 7 European Beer Star awards. Famous for their Nitro series, Left Hand Brewing was the first craft brewery to release a bottled nitrogenated beer. Left Hand’s collection of perennial and seasonal beers are available in 34 states & DC. “Sometimes you’re not in the mood for what everyone else is having.”