The Industries TailGate Looked at to Create Killer Benefits & Pay Package

Wes Keegan gets his ideas on how to run his brewery from outside the craft beer industry when it comes to planning out what Nashville’s TailGate Brewery should be doing as a company.

“You might look at something like New Belgium 10-20 years ago, something like that, maybe,” he said, adding that he finds what Maui Brewing is doing right now very interesting.

“We try to look at what the big, regional, sustained, and nationally recognized brands do … and did, especially, 10 years ago.”

The eight-year-old growing brewery — which just opened two more taprooms in the last month and has done nearly 50% volume growth year-over-year along with now boasting more than 170 employees — announced recently it has set itself up to offer all employees healthcare starting this year.

READ MORE: TailGate Set to Offer All Healthcare Costs for Employees

Keegan​, though​, likes to look more than outside the industry for aspects such as this and instead leaned on models set forth by companies like Whole Foods, the tech industry, and Costco to increase what a brewery can give to its employees as benefits and pay structure.

“Tech does a really great job investing in their people,” he explained. “They have such an aggressive retention battle going on where you can jump, and get a six-figure bump going from one company to another. In that world, if you’re stagnant for 12 months, you’re dead. You have to change jobs.

“So what the companies have done is really invested in the things that matter: What does it feel like to be at work? How do you talk to your employees? What is your pay like? When we established our wage structure, we looked at Costco.”

Costco, he said, has an interesting platform where for every six months equivalent of work in hours, you get a raise.

“Period,” he said. “Here’s where you start, you get a raise, and it just goes up, and eventually it caps.

“They have very clear, transparent communication on how you can make more money as an employee of that company. And we looked at all the different companies that people just look at and they say, ‘Hey, I like shopping here because they take care of their people.’

Whole Foods, pre-Amazon, had a great benefits program but not great wages.

“Why would somebody who was running the beer department think that having a shitty wage, plus great benefits was worse than working there,” Keegan pondered aloud. “We tried to just try to marry the two.”

Keegan shared more thoughts on the needed expansion of benefits and healthcare for employees and Brewer will share those in the coming weeks.

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