So here we are, Thursday, mid-morning, and I feel sort of terrible. This week is our bi-annual Pow-Wow, when all of the New Belgium Beer Rangers come home to the Mothership for meetings, presentations and lots of shenanigans (let me again stress the shenanigans). In my current position I am required to be present at a lot of these meetings (sales and branding do go hand in hand you know) and I have learned a lot about the upcoming year and all the big plans being hatched around NBB HQ. We talked a lot yesterday about the forth coming 16oz cans of Shift as well as the new spring seasonal, Dig. Both available soon, and in some markets you can even score Dig now (Lawrence, Kansas, I'm looking at you). I am also required at a lot of the fun stuff too (I know, it's tough). Some of the other things that generally happen around here for winter Pow Wow are the annual holiday party, the Ultimate Beer Ranger Competition and one of the greatest nights of the year, the Employee Ownership Induction Ceremony.
For those that don't know, New Belgium is 100% privately held and 100% employee owned. One year from your original hire date you become an owner, it takes a while to show your commitment to the company and to really learn the rights and responsibilities of employee ownership. Our ownership structure is due in large part to our wonderful founders who believed that the brewery would succeed and flourish if everyone had a stake in that success. Through the years the induction ceremony has gotten bigger, but the heart is still there. The new owners are expected to stand up in front of all the other owners and talk about why employee ownership is important to them (or some topic similar). Everyone takes a different approach to this, but there are always tears and hugs and emotions flowing freely. New Belgium is a tight knit community and ownership is one really big reason for the closeness, we are all swimming in this beer together.
And like I said, some people go with the tears and raw emotions for their own induction speech, and that is how they deal with talking in front of so many people about such close-to-the-heart-kinds-of-things. Now others, they go the other way, they go to jean shorts. If you folks are regular readers of this blog you know my affinity for jean shorts. My love of the jort runs deep, all the way back to my sweaty childhood wearing cut-offs and cowboy boots through those sweltering Missouri summers. So, when this (anonymous) new owner stepped on stage and ripped his pants off, exposing the small swath of blue denim covering his kibbles and bits I had a hard time keeping it together for his speech. He talked of ups and downs and the long road he took to get to where he is, and it was all very emotional. But everyone knows how hard it is to cry when wearing jean shorts and this proved true for the viewer in the audience as well.
It was an unorthodox approach but it worked, his wardrobe choices kept everyone laughing and drinking (a few folks needed one more beer after his speech, to cool the image that was firmly burned into their mind's eye). After the big night of ownership induction we wandered into the dark night to find watering holes for more whistle wetting and to celebrate and welcome all the new owners to the fold.
It was a big night on Tuesday and I am riding a wave of recharge and fun that ownership always brings (and my head still hurts a little too). Thanks for reading.
Until next time- XOXO,