Schlafly “Sells Out” the Right Way

Breaking news says that St. Louis’ Schlafly Brewing, a brewery near and dear to my heart, is selling a 60% stake to a local investment group.  Co-founder Tom Schlafly will retain a 20% stake in the company, and his founding partner Dan Kopman will retain at least 10%.  The remaining 10% will be made available for sale to Schlafly employees.

The story is still unfolding, bit this seems like the right way to cash out of a craft brewery.  Here’s what Schlafly had to say about it:

“The agreement … meets the criteria we set back in June of 2010, when we first discussed a succession plan for ownership of the brewery,” Tom Schlafly said in a statement. “Senior and long-term employees will be able to purchase stock in the company, and I’m transferring a majority interest to local investors committed to keeping the business in St. Louis.”

Schlafly Beer senior staff pictured with new investors, John Lemkemeier, Wes Jones, and Spencer Finney.

If you noticed, I put “sells out” in quotes in the title above because this really isn’t selling out; as Schlafly puts it, this is succession planning for ownership in the brewery.  No one owns a company forever, and on the surface it looks like Schlafly and Kopman have devised a way to keep ownership local and out of the hands of the big boys while managing to reward their loyal employees.  That’s a pretty neat trick, and it should be an example to other breweries that you can raise revenue or sell your business to folks other than international brewing conglomerates.

Hopefully everything goes smoothly and, most importantly, they continue to brew awesome beer. Because that’s what matters most in the end, right?

You can read more here on Schlafly’s employee blog.  It’s a piece written by Schlafly Communications Director (and all around swell guy) Troika Brodsky and has some links to the official press materials as well.

Thanks to our pal Zac for the tip on this one.

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Categories: Beer, News

Author:Jim Galligan

Craft beer nerd, frequent beer blogger and occasional home brewer.

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14 Comments on “Schlafly “Sells Out” the Right Way”

  1. BeerBanker
    January 4, 2012 at 1:57 pm #

    Here’s hoping the “local” investors don’t turn “evil” like Terrapin’s “local” investors…per John & Spike, that’s why they used the $$ from 10th&B…

    • January 4, 2012 at 2:03 pm #

      I guess they real question is will this new group of investors flip the brewery and sell it to one of the big boys.

  2. January 4, 2012 at 2:16 pm #

    Glad to help. I suspect this is will be a good thing for Schafly, allowing them to make beer for a long, long time.

    • January 4, 2012 at 2:24 pm #

      I think I saw this on beernews.org.

      • January 4, 2012 at 2:28 pm #

        Yup, that’s where I started, then went to STLtoday.com and then heard from Troika at Schlafly about it via email. It’s good when real news is good news.

        • January 4, 2012 at 3:05 pm #

          Haha I’m kidding, but good post either way.

    • January 4, 2012 at 2:29 pm #

      I hope you’re right, as I get a sense that’s the intent here.

  3. January 4, 2012 at 3:19 pm #

    This gives me more indigestion than the Tenth & Blake thing. And reading the Sage Capital, LLC, bios did not put me at ease, either. From a Big Beer Boogeyman principled point-of-view, this may look better. But succession planning is scary from a continuity and business direction standpoint (if you are a fan of the current state and direction of the brewery, which I am). Selling a 10 percent share to the Big Beer Boogeyman to shed debt and raise money for expansion worries me much less (from a quality and taste perspective) than selling a 60% share to a private equity firm. And this is coming from a capitalist pig, such as myself.

    From a less-selfish standpoint, it sounds like a pretty impressive phaseout for the co-founders. Seems like they will cash out and, at least in the short-term, retain a little control and secure a good deal for the employees. Good for them. Like you said, nobody owns a company forever.

    • January 4, 2012 at 3:29 pm #

      Well, you gotta sell to somebody, and if you can keep the ownership local and give the employees a chance to have a stake in the company, I think that’s pretty good. No situation will ever be perfect, but hopefully this one will work out (and the beer will stay awesome – I’m selfish, too!).

  4. January 4, 2012 at 4:06 pm #

    That is the way of business. But it would have been nice if they could have sold the 60% share to the employees and a 10% share to the equity group. That would have made it a co-op, which is the new economic wave in America, i.e., if the 400 are too piggy to share, then the rest of us create a new economy.

    • January 4, 2012 at 4:08 pm #

      I love the co-op idea, but I wonder if the employees could pony up that much. Brewing isn’t exactly a lucrative business, and brewery employees don’t make a ton of money, perhaps not enough to purchase America’s 43rd largest beer maker.

  5. January 4, 2012 at 4:16 pm #

    It is indeed as you say. I suspect that if Schlafly could have done that, they would have. Still it would have been nice….

  6. Kid Carboy Jr.
    January 6, 2012 at 5:46 pm #

    So, the piece I wrote on this apparently had almost exactly the same title, by what I promise was chance, as far as you know.

    Redditors were mostly supportive, with a couple very vocal exceptions who called us naieve fools who didn’t understand business. To which we can only really agree and move on.

    I toured the Schlafly Bottleworks during a beer trip to St. Louis back in early September, and it was a good time.

  7. Kid Carboy Jr.
    January 6, 2012 at 5:48 pm #

    I do not think I met anyone named “Troika,” because I feel like that’s something I would remember.

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