Keeping Your Brewery’s Culture Even During Growth

How you want your brewery to be seen in the public eye starts with how the ownership determines it wants to be seen. As employees are added, keeping the look and feel can be difficult without planning ahead.

Imparting how your brand works with employees and the public starts early and as it grows it has two options: to adapt or stay strong, and that comes from the top down.

For WeldWerks, developing that sense of trust has permeated from the start and Kristin Popcheff​ told Brewer that the company works to continue building trust each day, from retailers, guests at the taproom, the Greeley, Colorado community, and its team.​

​”We don’t believe in doing or saying anything for the sake of performance and I think that authenticity is something that people absorb​,” she said. “I am so proud that we have such a strong culture of trust. We know that it’s our people who make us who we are, who drive our successes, and who will help us continue to grow.”

Smog City talks a lot about company culture in employee interviews and Aften Lee said they really hammer home the idea of respect, learning, and growing.

“We look for the right culture first in new hires and skills second,” Lee said. “Sure, we love a new hire that comes with experience, but we can always teach the hard skills. Having the right attitude, willingness to grow, confidence to speak up and share ideas, and operate out of respect at all times can’t be taught.

“We’re quite picky with who we hire, ensuring someone is truly the right culture fit, and it’s worked out really well for us.”

Those company values are reiterated again during the onboarding process, and any time feedback is given, Lee said they use a culture of respect as the guiding force in discussions.

“It’s reinforced all the time,” Lee said. “We also constantly remind our staff to speak up if they have feedback or ideas. They are all probably sick of hearing the word ‘respect’ at this point and us asking for their input.”

As a family ownership and operating group, LUKI Brewery wanted to be very approachable for all guests, especially those repeat guests who see co-founder Jeff Smith and the staff frequently and know they can have a quick conversation about what they are doing, what is being worked on, and future projects.

“We love to share stories about our family’s connection to the circus and the Ringling Bros. and why we selected it as a theme for the brewery,” Smith explained. “The personal touch is very important, and it speaks to an overall feeling of camaraderie that we are continuously building.”

Smith said they regularly share planning with all employees, and each month they even share financial data.

“There are no secrets,” he said. “The owners always strive to set the tone for a work ethic. Super busy and it was unexpected? We have no problem jumping in and bussing tables, cleaning, being a barback, and such.

“It’s an ethic of supporting each other and not necessarily worrying about who’s getting what, or what’s the bottom line. Focus on the details and the bottom line generally takes care of itself.”

The WeldWerks team creates space for everyone to creatively contribute, to have a sense of autonomy, and to be their unique, individualistic selves.

“We do this by not micro-managing individuals and by embracing ideas and input from everyone,” she said. “We make sure that everyone feels like they have a valued voice to contribute.”

An example that Popcheff​ explained is that anyone at WeldWerks can contribute to the recipe development of a beer or even naming the beer.

“We have even had employees design our labels,” she said. “If they are passionate about something, we want to make sure we can bring that passion to life.”

An important way Smog City conveys its culture to employees, Lee added, is when they need coaching on performance issues.

“We firmly believe it’s disrespectful to avoid having a hard conversation with someone that could help them be better at their job,” Lee said. “If we can help someone learn, grow, and get better, we will and that shows we care and respect our employees and want them to thrive.”

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