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New Belgium Brewing Company
Most examples of ethically responsible companies are concerned principally with large corporations. Many individuals tend to look at monetary donations as a way of measuring ethical responsibility because it is recognizable contribution to society. What tend to be overlooked are the vast contributions of time, resources, and money by small corporations like the New Belgium Brewing Company. These companies often dedicate their resources to overcoming more local issues that benefit their own communities.
New Belgium Brewing Company is a small business based in Fort Collins, Colorado. The idea came when Jeff Lebesch, founder of New Belgium Brewing Company, was biking through Belgium. Inspired by the many small breweries in Belgium, he came up with the idea to create his own. When he returned home, he began brewing his own beer in his basement. Once he saw that his friends enjoyed the beer he, with the help of his wife Kim Jordan, decided to market his beer and New Belgium Brewing Company was formed in 1991. Throughout the 90's, they experienced rapid growth and expanded their beer line. They now offer several different varieties of permanent and seasonal beers.
In the beginning, New Belgium Brewing Company has relied on word of mouth to get their name out. This strategy has been relatively successful, as they are now distributing to almost half of the United States. They have experienced very consistent growth in the past and their sales are continually rising. Eventually the owners saw the need to advertise more rigorously and the enlisted the help of an advertising agency to help them reach an even greater audience. They now have an advertising campaign that is focused on their culture and down-to-earth roots. Even though the New Belgium Brewing Company has seen rapid success and growth, they have not strayed from the core values that have been with the company from the beginning.
From the very inception of the company, the founders came up with a set of values that they wanted to instill in their company and its employees. They wanted to make sure that the employees of New Belgium Brewing Company shared their concern in ethical responsibility. The core values are a set of statements that deal with the production of a great product, environmental concerns, as well as employee morale. They also have a great mission statement: "To operate a profitable brewery which makes out love and talent manifest." These statements make it extremely apparent that the owners are concerned with the wellbeing of the company as well as the employees. Not only have the founders created a fantastic work environment for their employees, but they have also taken several steps to ensure that they have an environmentally friendly company.
The New Belgium Brewing Company has worked to address several environmental issues, starting with their employees. They do a great job making the company a fun place to work. One of the ways they do this is by offering a great set of benefits. Every employee is offered a great medical and dental insurance plan, but that is only the beginning of the benefits. One of the larger benefits is that employees of five years are given an all-expense paid trip to Belgium to "study beer culture." They are also rewarded with the opportunity of ownership and a chance to have a say in company decisions. Employees are also rewarded with several smaller perks as well. One of those perks is that they are able to bring their children and pets to work with them. They are also treated to a free lunch once every two weeks. Another small perk is that all employees are given a free massage once a year. The benefits are not only meant to help the employees, but the environment as well.
After working at New Belgium for one year, every employee is given a bike. The philosophy behind this is that employees will be encouraged to ride their bikes to work to cut down on pollution. Even though the company encourages riding bikes to cut down on pollution, their sales force must drive a vehicle on sales trips. What is New Belgium's answer to this? They provide Toyota Prius hybrids to the sales force for a high efficiency, low pollution form of travel. They also offer an on-site recycling center for employees to easily recycle unused items of their own. One final effort that New Belgium encourages for its employees is the Tour de Fat. This is an event held every year where employees dress up and lead locals on bike tours. These benefits show that they are highly concerned with their employees wellbeing, but they are even more concerned with sustainability issues as a company overall.
The New Belgium Brewing Company has always strived to create a great product, and at the same time be an environmentally friendly company. They have always been looking for energy saving ways to improve their infrastructure. One of the ways they have done this is by installing a wind turbine to power the factory. This has greatly reduced the companies pollution output. New Belgium also employs a steam condenser that has reduced the company's energy use. This system catches the steam created in the beer production process and uses it to heat the floors and thaw the loading areas in the winter.
Another way the company saves energy is through their brew kettle. They have a very unique system that heats sections, which is much more efficient than heating the entire kettle like most other breweries. New Belgium also uses "sun tubes" to provide natural light in their factory throughout the year. One of the final, and more complex, things they do is to capture the waist water created in production and harvest the methane from it. This has a dual benefit. By treating the water themselves, it reduces the stress on the local water treatment plant as well as provides them with up to 15 percent of the power needed to run the brew house. All of these improvements have led to the New Belgium Brewing Company being a recognized leader in innovation and conservation. Though they place a high standard on themselves for being environmentally friendly, they also are extremely generous to the community.
According to the article in our text book, "New Belgium Brewing Company strives to improve communities and enhance people's lives through corporate giving, event sponsorship, and philanthropic involvement." They do this in a number of ways. The leaders at New Belgium have decided that they wanted to give $1 for every barrel of beer sold in the prior year. They base their distribution of money on the sales to different regions. This is a great way to fund local charities and say thank you to their loyal customers. Through these donations, New Belgium has given out over $2.9 million in their life. The New Belgium Brewing Company has sponsored and donated to a number of different organizations. When deciding on who and what to give, the philanthropy committee looks for organizations that demonstrate originality, variety, and a revolutionary way of meeting their goals.
The company also sponsors several events. They are very conscious of how they donate their money to these events and they try to promote "human-powered" sports that do not damage the natural environment. They sponsor a number of different bicycling events that are fundamental in creating awareness about the environment as well as medical diseases. One initiative that they have sponsored is the Tour de Fat, an environmental promotion that has participants trade in their cars for bikes to promote sustainable transportation. The company is also a big supporter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. They fund a team that rides their bikes to generate donations for the society. These are all examples of how the New Belgium Brewing Company has achieved its goals in strategic philanthropy.
Strategic philanthropy is defined as achieving social and benefits through the use of an organizations core competencies and resources. The New Belgium Brewing Company does just that. They are very supportive of the environment and making their operations as efficient as possible. New Belgium supports countless organizations that keep their goals of a clean and healthy environment in mind. They also do great things with recycling, like turning the byproducts of production into animal feed. Though some say alcohol and tobacco companies cannot be socially responsible, I believe that New Belgium is.
I feel that the New Belgium Brewing Company is a great example of a socially responsible company. After reading this article and learning about all of the great work they have done to be environmentally friendly, it is difficult to find an example of them not being socially responsible. Some contend that, due to the nature of their business, they cannot be socially responsible. I can understand that point, but New Belgium's core values state that they promote the responsible consumption of alcohol. This is why I believe the New Belgium Brewing Company is a great example of a socially responsible company.