All of the stories about Kenneth R. Grossman are so familiar, especially now, more than three decades after he founded Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., one of the nation’s first microbreweries. Just flip through any of the several dozen magazines that have featured him or turn the pages of one of the books about beer in America that have included chapters about his youth in Southern California. Yes, when he was a teenager, Grossman snuck into his neighbor’s garage to learn more about home brewing and to sample the product, of course and he later opened Sierra Nevada when he was still in his early 20s.
But all of that has been written about again and again.
What has been neglected more often than not are the facts that Grossman, owner and president of the company, turned his appreciation for details into a quality product, how he turned a quality product into invaluable word-of-mouth advertising and how he turned all of that into what is now the sixth-largest brewery in the United States without a business model.
Throughout the more than 30 years he has owned and operated Sierra Nevada, Grossman has always had an aversion to debt. He spends only what he needs, and he pours profits back into the brewery. That has led to top laboratory equipment and sustainable energy creation, in addition to one of the larger private solar arrays and four hydrogen fuel cells, which help produce 80 percent of the necessary energy on site.
Employee familiarity with the company and the product are also a boon. Grossman provides incentives that range from a health clinic and day care center on site to energy-efficient company cars and profit sharing, all of which leads to high employee loyalty and low turnover. Think Grossman still needs to sneak into his neighbor’s garage? Not anymore.