Stone & Wood

By Andy Young, TheShout

Popular independent craft brewer Stone & Wood has welcomed 30 new owners with employees accepting its latest annual share offer, meaning 72 per cent of its team are now owners in the business.

Co-founder Jamie Cook told Beer & Brewer that the company aims to do good business and do business well, which means engaging its team, which helps its place and position in the trade.

“We take a holistic view of business and we are very focused on making sure we create value for all of our stakeholders, not just the shareholders, but suppliers, customers, drinkers, the community, the environment and of course the team,” Cook said.

“Part of what we work on is the team actually developing their skills and knowledge, not just professionally but personally as well, so it’s about brewing a good life for each other.

“The share-ownership is something that we’ve had in play now for about three-and-a-half years. When the three of us started the business we got it so far, but when you’ve got over 100 people in the business and they are all adding value and creating value in that business year-on-year then we believe there should be some upside in all that value that is being created.

“So this is a way of rewarding the effort and value that they have created for themselves, for the business and for each other. “

Cook told TheShout that by rewarding the team it helps to build a positive culture and that helps to make sure good people come to, and stay with, the business.

“It does add to the culture of the business, in that when you come into work every day you are not just working for ‘the man’, you’re working for each other because the person beside you is a shareholder and a co-owner just as you are. It creates a nice environment,” Cook said.

“By building that strong culture and that sense of co-ownership, it helps to retain good people, but it also means that you can attract good people and that’s a key piece for us. With Byron, while people say ‘what a lovely place to work’, it’s also an expensive to live, so from that perspective it’s helping to build a strong team and our retention rate is pretty high.”

Cook also said that by having a team that has a co-ownership focus it helps the brewery with its customer service and dealing with the trade, and that is being reflected in the business growth.

“I think the relationships that we have in the trade are very much borne out by people who have that owner hat on when they go into work every day. Particularly as our business continues to grow and year-to-date we are up about 25 per cent on last year in a flat beer market, I think that is a good sign that we are on the right course.

“We tap into the conscious drinkers out there and we take a very conscious business approach to the way we run the business, and I think that is very important. When people scratch the label they see quite a strong story that is behind that label, it’s not surface deep.”

That ethos also goes beyond just employee engagement, with Stone & Wood having a strong environmental approach, with Cook saying the company has 100kwh of solar panels on the roof at the Murwillumbah brewery, they are also at around 99 per cent in terms of material re-use from the brewery, they have very low water usage and they are about to fire up an ultra-filtration, reverse osmosis unit which will allow them to clean up and re-use some of the water which is currently going to waste, to help cut water usage by around another 20 per cent.

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