Deschutes Establishes Employee Stock Ownership Program

The country’s fifth-largest craft brewer, Deschutes Brewery, today announced that it has made its first contribution to a newly established Employee Stock Ownership Program (ESOP).

The fund will allow those employees who are not part of the management team to benefit economically from building value in the company, said Deschutes CFO Peter Skrbek. The fund is currently just 8 percent of the company’s total stock.

Skrbek explained Deschutes founder Gary Fish’s impetus behind creating the new program.

“Gary’s rationale for creating and allowing the ESOP is more to reward the team and to create value than to look at it as an exit strategy,” he said.

The program is being administered by Neil Brozen, an independent ESOP trustee from Bankers Trust Company and employees will gain shares of the program based on time served with the company.

Skrbek could not comment on the specific value of the new ESOP but did say the fund could grow over time.

ESOP programs are becoming more commonplace amongst craft brewers. Earlier this year New Belgium announced a 100 percent employee owned structure. Full Sail Brewing and Alaskan Brewing also have similar programs.