Family run started off with me and Dad. We very quickly decided to bring on my Brother, my friend Jamie, our Brew master Matt is a great fiend as well and my Mom. So, it was very much friends and family at the beginning. But what was interesting was, we had a lot of things that needed to get done and there was only a few of us to do them and so a lot of our friends and family started volunteering. My Sister, who was a book editor, started writing our press releases for us. My buddy Jordan, who was a graphic designer, drew our logos for us. There are countless examples of friends who came and helped us and as we grew and could finally afford to pay someone to do these things, it just made sense that we would hire those people because they had already been volunteering at it and had been doing a good job for us. Now, the only difference was we paid them to do it. So, our initial growth was mostly around hiring the people that had been helping us and what we realized was that we really liked the dynamic that our company had that other companies didn’t seem to have, which was that fact that anyone at any point in the organization felt comfortable saying something. ‘I think there is a better way to do this’ or ‘I don’t think we should be doing that’ and it didn’t matter if they were on the packaging team or anyone because we were all friends and family, everyone felt comfortable with each other to let each other know what we were really thinking. Everyone worked that much harder. I remember there being times when I would be talking to my Brother Phil and its’ like “I don’t know how we are going to get this done but we have to find a way to do it because if we don’t, it’s Mom and Dad’s retirement that’s on the line here.” So, it meant more to everybody and my friend’s that we brought into the company felt that yeah, it’s a cool job and I get to work for a brewery but it’s different when it’s ‘I get to work with my buddy and be part of his brewery’ and that really changed the dynamic in a really cool way.
One of the things that we recognized as we grew, was 1) I didn’t have that many friends when I started the brewery and so we had to start bringing other people in and we needed to find a way for them to feel comfortable in this pretty unique dynamic. The best way that we found was to become close friends with them because then suddenly they feel just as much a part of it as anybody else. So that became a big part of our hiring practice – hiring people we felt we could be friends with. Then the last missing piece of that was, all these people coming in and we’re saying we want to treat you like family, we want to treat you as part of the ownership here. There was an unspoken promise there that if we could, we would make you an owner and at a certain point I kind of realized that, well, we actually can. So, we started working on a process to open up shares for our employees so that they can benefit in the success of the company. There a real special kind of awesomeness when you’re not just working to get a paycheck, you’re working because you know you get to benefit if the company wins. That is how that evolved and when we first opened up, we did make shares available to all of the staff for the 1st year but we didn’t have a program to keep that running and on-going. So it was important to me that we lived up to that unspoken promise to our employees that we don’t just treat you as if you are family in everything but ownership, we treat you as if you are family including ownership. To me, authenticity is really a craft breweries stock and trade and if we weren’t being authentic and honest with our employees I don’t know how they can then be authentic with our customers. I very firmly believe that customers are sophisticated and they can smell a rat and so I want to make sure that they believe in what we are doing and the best way to do that is to make our employees believe in what we are doing.