New Belgium Brewing Company, based in Fort Collins,

Closing Case People and Purpose at New Belgium Brewing

New Belgium Brewing Company, based in Fort Collins,

Colorado, was founded by a husband and wife team who met over a beer at a friend’s house. A year later, they founded their own brewery, which has grown to become America’s third-largest craft brewery.

After they toured several European villages famous for beer, the plan for New Belgium Brewing Company started to take shape. (Touring on a bicycle with fat tires, of course.) The new entrepreneurs wanted to make an outstanding beer and minimize the company’s footprint on the planet. They prepared a vision statement and a list of core values before they ever sold a bottle of beer. One of the core values reads: “Environmental stewardship: Honoring nature at every turn of the business.” This core value reflects their strong belief in sustainability. As early adopters of the movement toward sustainability, employees voted to make New Belgium Brewing the first 100 percent wind-powered brewery in 1998. The company has set goals to reduce its carbon footprint by 25 percent, reduce water usage by 10 percent, offset eight million car miles by riding bikes, and supporting the on-site recycling center.

An employee ownership plan encourages employees to become more engaged. Employees own about 32 percent of New Belgium through a stock-ownership plan. The company has embraced open-book management practices that include monthly meetings where employees review financial statements, business strategies, and branding plans. They worked hard to make a culture of transparency that fosters trust and respect. The result of New Belgium’s passion and purpose tied to business practices is an amazing employee retention rate of 92 percent.Footnote


Carefully review the business practices at New Belgium Brewing Company and determine which of these would be most appealing to you.

In 1998, employees at New Belgium Brewing voted to make the company 100 percent wind-powered, even if it meant forfeiting their yearly bonus. Would you support this initiative even if it meant a reduction in your earnings?

New Belgium Brewing has created a high-involvement employee culture. What are some of the major benefits of a culture of transparency?


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