How Creature Comforts Brewing Co. Stays Value-Focused as Their Footprint Grows

by The Insights

Creature Comforts is a certified B-Corp craft brewery based in Athens, GA with a social purpose rooted in promoting human connection.

Founded in 2014, the company has grown significantly in the southeastern United States in recent years and will soon open a brewery and bar in Los Angeles, California. Throughout its growth, it has given priority to maintaining its values.

While many companies struggle with mission drift as they grow, I wanted to learn more about how Creature Comforts keeps values ​​and purpose central to its focus as it evolves. . My recent chat with Fenwick Broyard, Vice President of Culture at Creature Comforts Brewing Co. provides a number of insights into how companies can meet this challenge.

Christopher Marquis: What are the values ​​of Creature Comforts Brewing Co. and why was it important to define them from the start?

Fenwick Broyard: In all honesty, we didn’t define our values ​​from the start. We had a few pillars on which we built our business, including quality, professionalism, community, balance and creativity, but our values ​​only came together after three years; and, once they did, they were equal parts aspiration and discovery.

We view our values ​​as the answer to the “how” question for our purpose and mission. We accomplish our goal of “Fostering Human Connection” through staying true to our mission of “Being a force for good through the development of cutting-edge beverages and experiences.” The way we stay on mission is by adhering to the values ​​that have been developed by a cross-functional advisory group, along with the associated behavioral expectations that have been outlined in our Code of Conduct. Specifically, the values ​​we have established for ourselves at Creature Comforts are:

  • Fall for curiosity: An inquisitive mind leads to a better life.
  • Moderation matters: In life as in beer, being balanced is best.
  • Be for people: Be inclusive. Advocacy for equity. Spread respect.
  • Spread Kindness: Start with trust. No gossip. Give grace.
  • Do it better: Whether it’s your job or your community, make it better. The best idea wins.
  • Leave a legacy: Set up your successors for success.

Marquis: Creature Comforts is based in small town Georgia, but has seen distribution growth throughout the Southeast and is now set to open in Los Angeles. How have you maintained your values ​​while evolving?

Broyard: I think that has been an area of ​​opportunity for us. We experienced near meteoric growth initially and added nearly 20 employees per year in the first six years. In fact, I would say that in some ways the market pulled us “on our skis”…and then there was the pandemic. Before the pandemic, I would say we did a good job of maintaining our values, exactly because they were derived from what our staff loved most about our product – that is, it “fostered connection human”. We’ve built a culture around having tough conversations face-to-face and over a beer; and then, against every instinct and desire we had, we had to close our offices and promote social distancing while trying to “foster human connection” virtually. Like every other company, we have struggled to recreate the organic connections upon which innovation and teamwork depend; but, with the opening of our very first head office in a few weeks, I am convinced that we will be able to rediscover our cultural magic. We are at a unique moment in our company’s history, where the best thing we can do is get back to our purpose and let it serve as the North Star by which we navigate the perilous journey of grounding. ‘ladder.

Marquis: What prompted Creature Comforts to seek B Corp certification? What impact has this had on your day-to-day operations?

Broyard: We like to joke that the B-Corp certification asked us, because it was through the observation of a member of the University of Georgia business school that we even heard about the certification. We were contacted by a program director at UGA’s Terry College of Business, who gave us a book on the subject, along with his statement that (according to him) we “were already a B Corp.” And, although we had never heard of a B Corp before receiving this recommendation, our CEO and then our Community Manager both agreed that the certification was worth pursuing.

We specifically sought B-Corp certification for it to impact our day-to-day operations, as the B-impact assessment served as our benchmark of best practices across the five impact domains. . We’ve pulled off several ideas and written dozens of policies, based on an ongoing engagement with the Assessment, led by our current Community Manager and self-proclaimed “Resident B-Keeper”, Ally Hellenga. Finally, in addition to program and policy insights, we have also used evaluation to establish goals by establishing certification breakpoints as targets for our internal and external efforts. We have just excitedly highlighted all of this with the release of our first-ever Impact Report, released in conjunction with the annual B Corp month.

Marquis: What priority is given to sustainability in your brewing process? How do you balance making a great product while reducing waste?

Broyard: As we have done in the other five areas of Impact Assessment B, we have set ourselves aggressive sustainability goals. In fact, our current company-wide sustainable performance indicator is to reduce our carbon emissions in 2023 to the equivalent of what they were in 2020… back when we were producing 30,000 barrels of less beer than we are supposed to produce this year.

We also recently achieved TRUE Silver Level Certification for our zero waste efforts at our production facility, with a 99.8% diversion rate. To achieve this, we must commit to identifying efficiencies at every stage of the brewing and packaging processes, as well as across our shipping and fleets, and all other places where we consume energy. Monitoring all of this is the job of our full-time sustainability director, Jacob Yarbrough, who literally teaches us all something new every day. But at the end of the day, I have to say that our commitment to sustainability really comes from the heart of our co-founder Adam Beauchamp, for whom sustainability is as high a priority as quality and safety in the production of our product.

Marquis: Creature Comforts has several employee-led impact programs. How do you foster a corporate culture that prioritizes community engagement?

Broyard: As important as it is to leverage our resources as organizationit is equally essential to motivate our people to engage with their community, becoming not just residents, but citizens. To that end, we launched an employee volunteer program in 2022 with the goal of simplifying service by creating accessible and meaningful service touchpoints for all employees throughout the year. We assembled a cross-functional team of Community Impact Ambassadors to help identify service opportunities that their teams could be excited about and that would fit their respective work paces – again, our goal is to make the service to our community as simple and accessible for every Creature Comforts employee as possible. We also created and launched in 2021 the Eudaimonia award, to recognize each year the employee who has best exemplified our commitment to improving our community. In 2022 alone, 73 individual employees (55% of the company) served a total of more than 1,785 hours, serving a total of 87 beneficiaries – i.e. a combination of organizations non-profit, business consulting and long-term mentoring. And, in 2023, we hope to do even better, having established our community KPI by increasing the percentage of creatures serving in a given year from 55% to 75%.

Marquis: What makes a brewery an excellent vehicle for positive social impact?

Broyard: According to historian Stephen Mansfield, corporate citizenship was born in a brewery. In his 2009 book, The Search for God and Guinness: A biography of the beer that changed the world, Mansfield set out to find out who was the first historic company to take the call to serve seriously. And that pursuit took him to 18th century Dublin, St. James Gate and Guinness.

Anyone who seriously reads Mansfield’s account will conclude that Guiness was the first business to add strategic value to their community. We believe craft breweries are uniquely placed to continue this legacy, both because of the fundraising potential of our products and spaces and the collaborative spirit in which our industry operates. And, because it is, to a large extent, location-based, craft beer has the opportunity to take deep roots in the community. And, our belief is that since we are going to be a force no matter what, we may as well be a force for good.

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