Two of the legendary figures in craft brewing are beginning to take a step back from the industry they helped build.
In October 2018, Sierra Nevada founder Ken Grossman quietly handed off the CEO role to Jeff White. The transition at the top of the 40-year-old Chico, California-headquartered craft brewery occurred so quietly that it wasn’t reported until January 2019.
Also in January 2019, Odell Brewing’s three founders — Wynne, Doug and Corkie Odell — informed their employees that they’d be exiting the daily operations of the 30-year-old Fort Collins, Colorado-based craft brewery at the end of 2019. The transition plans were also kept under wraps until the company publicly announced that the Odells would retire and Eric “Smitty” Smith, a 25-year employee of the brewery, would assume the CEO role in 2020.
If these two quiet transitions sound familiar, it was by design. Wynne Odell told Brewbound that she admired the way that Grossman handed off his chief executive role, and wanted to mirror that “very organic transition.”
In Episode 4 of the Brewbound Podcast’s second season, Odell shared with Brewbound editor Justin Kendall what she anticipates it will be like to wake up on January 1, and no longer be involved in the day-to-day operations of Odell Brewing. She also discusses why Odell Brewing’s co-founders didn’t want to “die with their boots on,” and why she’s now an evangelist for succession planning, even for founders who aren’t yet ready to step away from their businesses.
Meanwhile, in a separate interview recorded during the Great American Beer Festival, Grossman discussed his own decade of delegation that led to White eventually taking the reins, reveals what he plans to do with his free time, and looks back on a transformational year for Sierra Nevada.
Listen to Episode 4 above, as well as on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, Spotify, and Soundcloud. New episodes of the Brewbound Podcast are published Thursdays.
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