New Belgium Brewery is a craft brewery based in Fort Collins, Colorado and is a wonderful example of Conscious Capitalism in action.
Founded by Kim Jordan and Jeff Lebesch in 1991, New Belgium is passionately committed to its purpose – To Operate a Profitable Brewery which makes our Love and Talent Manifest. The founders were also very clear about how they wanted their work to manifest in the world – they knew they wanted to produce world-class beers in an environmentally friendly fashion and to promote beer culture and the responsible enjoyment of beers. It was also important for them to have fun while working hard. Since those early beginnings, New Belgium has experienced extraordinary growth and is now the 3rd largest craft brewer in the United States and as of 2010, the seventh largest brewer in the US. The growth of the business has been steady and impressive and the company now generates annual revenues of over $140 million.
Their 92% employee retention rate is driven by a powerful culture built on high levels of trust and transparency – they call it a High Involvement Culture. All financials are open to co-workers and strategic planning is collaborative and company-wid. Recently the brewery took it one step further becoming a 100% employee-owned company.
The team at New Belgium are passionate about sustainability and environmental stewardship, developing a number of unique programs, including an internal electricity tax that they levy on themselves to fund renewable energy projects. They are also mad about cycling, creating a bicycle parade and festival called ‘Tour de Fat’. The events, which take place annually in various large- and medium-sized cities around the US include music, New Belgium beer, new circus and vaudeville type acts, bicycle dance troupes, and the main activist spectacle, a giant group bike ride/parade wherein the participants, many costumed fancifully, ride through town. The climax of the tour, however, is the bike trade, in which a local participant transfers the keys and title of their motor vehicle to New Belgium in exchange for a new commuter bike and trailer in order to promote bike riding and sustainability. They have also designed their very own “Fat Tire” cruiser bike which features on the label of their Fat Tire Amber Ale and is given as a gift to each employee of the brewery their one-year anniversary with the company. The bikes have developed kind of a cult following in Colorado, fostering the image of New Belgium as a hip sustainable company and one of the coolest places to work in the state.