Monday, August 17, 2015

Squatters/Wasatch Layoffs


Ok, there a bit of misinformation out there regarding the departures of some employees last week. The majority of those who have left the company were in management positions in the brewery. They are the CFO/President, the Director of Sales and the Brewmaster.There were some non-management resignations as well.

To fill the holes left by these individuals - a transition team and consultants from Oskar Blues (Wasatch/Squatters new sister brewery) have been sent to Salt Lake to help reconstruct and delegate new responsibilities to the existing brewery staff. 

There was no house cleaning, but people have left. I trust a press release is imminent with the full story coming soon. I apologize if I've created confusion about the comings and goings at the UBC.

In 2012 Fireman Capitol, a capitol investment company based in Boston, Mass. - invested $35 million and acquired part ownership in the UBC. In May Fireman Capitol bought a majority stake in Colorado's Oskar Blues Brewery.

Oskar Blues currently has two production breweries (Longmont, Co & Brevard, NC) as well as two Colorado brewpubs in Co., and the recently acquired Perrin Brewing out of Michigan. The reason we're talking about Oskar Blues is that it's rumored their larger distribution network will absorb a portion of the Utah management and production positions that were lost here in Salt Lake City.

Since this all went down at the end of last week, official info is spotty - though it was a huge topic of conversation at last Saturday's Utah Beer Festival. *As soon as more info is made available we'll get the word out.

8 comments:

DeDe Coleman said...

Wow! An example of big beer and the bottom line at it's finest. What a shame. So sad for those who lost their jobs.

Unknown said...

Well... the GOOD news is that there are plenty of locally owned breweries left. Screw those guys.

Unknown said...

A good example, I guess, of the paradox at the heart of modern businesses. Everyone works hard so the company can succeed, but when it does succeed, those same people end up losing their jobs. Was that hard work really worth it, then? Was it really in the end of benefit to the community?

Rio Connelly said...

This is FUCKING lame! My support goes out to all the good folks who lost their jobs!
just goes to show what happens when owners (you know who you are) put their profits before the well-being of their business and employees. Even if they tried to stop it, this is directly their fault. They created the situation where they wouldn't have the power to stop it.
That being said, there are still a lot of good people at the UBC and Squatters and Wasatch brands (who knows for how long?),
and we as the beer community shouldn't abandon those folks just because of some decisions made by higher ups. I will continue to drink their beer, maybe a little more hesitation than before, and hope that this historic set of Utah brands doesn't disappear or become awful or any number of tragedies.
Let's stick together in the face of corporate America's co-opting of craft beer!

Unknown said...

Nicely stated, Rio!

Dave Forsberg - Utah Real Estate said...

I feel for everyone who lost their jobs, terrible, terrible thing.... The problem I find with UBC (especially the Squatter's label) since accepting the cash from the private equity firm, is the complete lack of brand identity. The new re-brand of Squatter's is a marketing FAIL of biblical proportions. There is absolutely no brand identity between the individual "flavors" its extremely hard, if not impossible, to distinguish between a Hop Rising and a Bumpercrop or Chasing Tail, or any others (They are tryin to correct this problem by adding a lame narrow color strip to each brand, but the damage has been done).... It is confusing at best, and makes it really easy for the average consumer to just pass over and go on to the next brand... I talked with a buyer from on of the BIG BIG warehouse liquor stores out of State and they are considering dropping all Squatter's labels because its just too confusing...

Innovation has been next to nil with Squatter's since the influx of cash. Wasatch has added a single improvement with the Nitro Polygamy, but next to that the only change has been in the canning line/bottling line, and some new fermenters etc to increase capacity.... Let's just be brutally honest and say both brands have been pretty stale for years while the other breweries are constantly improving their products and keeping up with the nationwide and regional trends....

Either the management crew here locally at UBC has zero control of their products (ie hands were tied by equity firms demands, or they just got complacent and things got out of control in a hurry and this was the only logical thing the equity firm and higher ups could do to stop the bleeding.)

This should be a wake up call to ALL breweries (locally and Nationally,) either really think about what you are doing when accepting cash from either the BMCs or Equity Firms, or keep it local and re-think scale. Not everyone can be a Dogfish Head/Stone (organic growth to a massive scale), a New Belgium/Full Sail (100% Employee owned), and not everyone should sell out to the BMCs or equity firms if they still want to control the destiny of their product. Business is business in the end and difficult choices have to be made for the best of not only the company but the employees, as well.

Layoffs suck, but are a REALITY in all businesses no matter what size or scale, corporation or privately owned.

Rio Connelly said...

Dave had some excellent points, but one last note:
While it's true that Squasatch hasn't been as "cutting edge" lately, and especially that their last re-branding was atrocious (seriously, the worst I've ever seen), it seems clear that this move was not performance based. That is, that this was not a decision to remove these people based on merit, but rather, a top-down decree to absorb Squasatch into the Oskar Blues distribution catalogue, and thus create redundancy, rendering the smaller company's personnel expendable. There was likely no, "stop the bleeding" financial reason, and almost entirely a "trim the fat" situation instead.
This may be the reality of business, but it's a shitty thing to do to folks who built the brand and have been with the company for literally decades, especially with zero notice.

El Mano said...

This is very scary. Very. The beer took a tumble with the rebrand, and has recently been coming back. But now I will never know if will return all the way. I no intention of supporting a company that will do this to local legends. Good people with value and merit. It is a crying shame, and just goes to show. Greed and beer are a poor combination.