Why Loyalty is a Two-Way Street

With more than 4,000 breweries in United States, loyalty can become the number one criteria for advancement for many breweries. Finding people in higher-level positions can be tough to find, especially ones that understand the culture of your brewery.

Many breweries create leadership programs that can not only train an individual for tasks outside their current realm but also boost confidence in that handing over responsibilities shows trust through all levels of management.

Unselfishly, and I emphasize the word unselfishly, train your employees to be as skilled as you or better,” said Ellis Island Brewery’s Joe Pickett, the company’s brewmaster. For his Las Vegas-based brewery, Pickett stressed that building leaders means outside training if necessary as well.

“Be certain their personal professional goals can be satisfied within the company,” he said. “Make sure that the employee’s financial goals have been discussed and they are understood and satisfied.”

Moving up the ranks, with the proper support, is possible added The Alchemist’s Jen Kimmich.

Three examples of success at the Vermont-based brewery include Lead Canning Line Operator and Operations Manager, Joel Hartman; Stowe Canning Line Operator Kenny Gardener; and Office and Distribution Manager Ashli Izor.


Hartman began as a bartender in 2005. When the brewery opened its first production facility in 2011, he expressed interest in brewery work and demonstrated a strong desire to learn any job that we could offer him.

“Joel proved to be an incredibly quick learner with great mechanical skills,” Kimmich said. “John and I always knew Joel was very bright, but we were both just blown away by his ability to make good, pragmatic decisions under pressure.”

Hartman quickly carved out a niche for himself at The Alchemist and most recently, was instrumental in the design process of the new brewery and canning line in Stowe, Vermont.

Gardener started as the head bartender in 2004 for the then brewpub. Today, he runs the canning line in Stowe and helps oversee the tasting room.

“Kenny is an incredibly valuable employee,” Kimmich said. “He has never been afraid to challenge himself and has always been, and will continue to be, our best ambassador. We call him the Mayor of Waterbury.”

Izor started as a hostess in the Waterbury pub when she was 17 and took over her current duties at 22-years-old.

“Although Ashli chose not to attend college, it was clear that she was very intelligent,” Kimmich said. “She was also extremely organized and efficient; always calm under pressure and the epitome of professional. Since Ashli became our office manager five years ago, she has proven herself to be the most competent and dependable office manager I have ever worked with.”

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