Another ESOP

Not surprisingly, in an industry that is rooted in passion, collaboration and commitment to product and company values, a number of craft brewers have become employee-owned companies in recent years as the pioneering generation edges towards retirement age. Perhaps the most visible craft brewery to sell to its employees is the New Belgium Brewing Co.


Harpoon Brewing has announced that effective August 1st it will become an employee-owned company, transferred 48% of Harpoon’s shares to an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). “This new structure of employee ownership will ensure the brewery’s independence and preserve Harpoon’s culture,” the company said in a press release.


“Employee ownership is the embodiment of what Harpoon stands for,” says Harpoon co-founder Dan Kenary. “Our success as an independent craft brewer is attributed to our outstanding employees and the wonderful culture we have at the brewery. The ESOP strengthens our commitment to our employees, our culture, and to making and sharing great beer.”


The Harpoon Brewery was founded in 1986 in Boston by Dan Kenary and Rich Doyle. It has since grown to be the 12th largest craft brewery in the US and currently has 187 full-time employees between its Boston, MA and Windsor, VT brewing facilities.


Doyle will step down as CEO but will maintain part-time status at the brewery, focusing on key marketing and sales initiatives as well as new business development. Kenary will assume the role of CEO. No other changes in the management structure will take place.


“This is a big transition for the company and for me, but it feels like the right thing at the right time,” says Doyle. “I have enjoyed my twenty-eight years working here and building a first class brewing company from idea to reality. The ESOP will really fit the culture here since Harpoon has always been a very team-oriented place. Dan and the Harpoon team will continue to do an excellent job.”


The announcement of the ESOP was made to Harpoon employees at a special mid-year meeting on the evening of July 9th.