Beer can turn most of us into philosophers. But in this case (ha!), I’m talking about the business philosophy of the owners of Great Lakes Brewing Co. (based in Cleveland, Ohio). My friend Howard works for Great Lakes, and he flagged this story from Brewer Magazine in his Instagram. The article is a Q&A with co-founders/co-owners (and blood brothers) Daniel and Patrick Conway, as well as the current CEO, Mark King.

I like Great Lakes beers anyway, but I like them even more after reading the piece. Because their recipe for success has as much to do with people as it has to do with barley, malt, and hops. Here’s Daniel talking about employees:

” I recall when our payroll provider helped us create our first policy manual and there was a section where we could insert our own language, and we included that ‘our people are not costs to control, but assets to develop and grow.’ Words in a manual long since forgotten but that spirit is still alive today.”

“our people are not costs to control, but assets to develop and grow.”

Original Great Lakes Policy Manual

Mmm, that’s as refreshing as a Great Lakes Eliot Ness amber lager!

And here’s Patrick, citing a good idea that has helped sustain the brewery since it was founded in 1988:

“I think from the beginning with our ‘triple bottom line’ where we wanted to take care of our finances, but also our city and people and the planet. It seemed so logical to not just focus on profit and it carried us well for years.”

A business focus that includes people and the planet? Sounds as tasty as an Edmund Fitzgerald porter!

More from Patrick later in the interview: ” Invest in good people from the start.”

It shouldn’t be a foreign concept, but it all too often is. Take better care of your people, and they’ll care more about the company.

The Conway brothers started an Employee Stock Ownership Plan back in 2018, so they’re putting their money where their mouth is.

I already liked Great Lakes beers. Now I can feel even better about purchasing those products because I know they there’s a lot of people power in every serving.