With its 10th anniversary rapidly approaching, Beau’s All Natural Brewing Co. has decided the best way to mark the occasion is to sell the company.
Beau’s has announced it will reward employees who’ve been with the brewery for more than 12 months with a single share in the well known organic brewer. Employees will also be able to sign up for an ownership plan, which will begin distributing shares workers starting next Jan. 31, 2017, the end of the company’s current fiscal year.
The company is owned by founder Steve Beauchesne, his father Tim, his brother Phil and his sister Jen. The four hold about 60 per cent of the outstanding shares. The remaining 40 per cent are held by early stage investors who saw a solid investment in the upstart Vankleek Hill brewer a decade ago and provided seed money to get the brewery running.
Why measuring social impact has become just as important for companies as doing the 'right things'Labatt Breweries buys craft beer maker Mill Street Brewery for undisclosed amount
According to Beauchesne, many of those early stage investors are looking to sell their shares and take the profits from their investment. The employee share sale initiative is the company’s way of making sure that the brewery stays independent, he said.
“We’ve been talking about doing this for a quite a while, at least a few years now,” Beauchesne said Wednesday. “There are lots of good reasons for doing this. We always wanted our employees to feel like they are part of a team and part of a family. This is a very concrete way to allow them to participate.”
Beauchesne said that 40 per cent of the brewery’s shares will be made available to its 150 employees. The remaining 60 per cent will stay with his family.
We always wanted our employees to feel like they are part of a team and part of a family. This is a very concrete way to allow them to participate.
Since Beau’s isn’t publicly traded on an open market where supply and demand can set the price of his company’s shares, the brewer has brought in an independent auditor to go over its financial situation, market opportunities and assets and to set a value for its shares.
Beauchense declined to share that value publicly. But he said that over the past decade his company’s share value has increased, on average, by 45 per cent annually. He also said that isn’t likely to change anytime soon, seeing as the brewer has some major announcements in the works, including a big distribution agreement that will allow the brewery to finally go national with its products.
The employee ownership model will allow staff to buy Beau’s shares at a value predetermined by the independent auditor on an annual basis. Because the shares are for employees only, workers who leave will be asked to sell their shares back to the company at the auditor’s predetermined, ensuring the brewery remains independent and employee owned.
Per-share dividends based on profits are not guaranteed, Beauchesne said, but the company may pay them depending on financial performance.
However, he said, at a time when the market for craft beer is exploding and craft breweries are struggling to differentiate themselves from one another, being independent and employee owned will make the Beau’s brand stronger.
“This is to safeguard us as an independent brewery for years and years to come,” said Beauchesne. “With the changing market place, we think it’s important that there’s another national craft brand. It really scares me that there aren’t a lot of breweries in Canada that are both independent and national.”