SOLD: How New Belgium Brewing Sold the Company to the Employees – and Became More Successful in the Process

For privately-owned companies, knowing when to sell, and to whom, is a stressful decisions. Kim Jordan, founder of New Belgium Brewing, wanted to make sure her company passed into the hands of someone who shared her values and hopes for the company. Ultimately, her decision on a buyer had significant financial implications for the company and its people.

How to use this video:  Watch this video with your senior leadership team, then use the questions below to launch a discussion on how you can inspire passion in your workforce. 

Discussion Guide

After much research, New Belgium’s leaders made the decision to sell the company to the employees, through an Employee Owned Stock Option (ESOP). The result has been a workforce that sees itself as owners, and makes informed and strategic decisions.

Consider this and reflect on your own company as you discuss the questions below.

  • What are the intentional or un-intended consequences of your company’s ownership structure? How do you see this play out at various levels of leadership? What is the impact?
  • While an ESOP isn’t right for every organization, most companies could benefit from giving employees a greater sense of ownership over their work. How much ownership do your direct reports feel? Your frontline leaders? What could be done to increase their sense of ownership?
  • Because New Belgium’s employees are owners, and because of their open book management approach to finances, the workforce has a clear understanding of what makes their company profitable, and what they can do to grow profits. How clearly do your managers understand profitability? What one to two things could you do today to improve this understanding?
  • Accountability is a positive outcome of New Belgium’s ownership structure. What processes or interactions encourage accountability for you and your team? What opportunities do you see for growth?

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