CLEVELAND, May 24, 2018 – At its annual company summit this week, Great Lakes Brewing Co. – Ohio’s first and largest craft brewery – announced the creation of an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), joining a growing community of ESOP-owned craft breweries across the country. Co-owners Patrick and Dan Conway made the surprise announcement to their co-workers as part of the annual awards ceremony that concludes the summit.
“Every year, we give The Conway’s Award – a sort of founder’s award – to recognize one employee for outstanding contributions to the company. This year, we decided the award was the perfect way to announce the ESOP, recognizing everyone in the company as deserving. Instead of the customary hardware, we’re giving them a stake in our company,” says Co-owner Patrick Conway. “Many recognize our company as having a family-like culture – we’ve just expanded the size of the family,” adds Dan Conway.
ESOP’s are in the Conway family’s blood. Patrick and Dan’s father, John F. Conway, a well-known tax attorney in Cleveland, introduced the first ESOP in Ohio – and one of the first in the country – for his client Alloy Engineering. “We think our father would approve of what we’re doing today,” says Dan.
The company has been reviewing the possibility of an ESOP for more than ten years. Support for this endeavor was provided by Brian O’Neill, Ron Stansbury and Corine Corpora of Tucker Ellis, Bill Wildenheim of Hobe & Lucas Certified Public Accountants Inc., and Cathy Ivancic of Workplace Development Inc. The ESOP trustee and administrator will be announced soon.
As the owners noted in the company’s annual Sustainability Report, they believe the combination of the 30-year anniversary, possible expansion plans in Cleveland’s Flats neighborhood, and the ESOP will provide a strong foundation for the next 30 years and beyond. “It reinforces the idea that we’re all in this together,” says CEO Bill Boor.