The Total Impact of Great Beer–With New Belgium Brewing’s Kim Jordan

Click the player to listen to my conversation with Kim or right-click and save for the MP3.  Either way, you should listen.

I’d bet good money that most of us would love to have Kim Jordan’s job as New Belgium Brewing Company’s intrepid leader of good beer and good business. Beyond making (and tasting) great beer like Fat Tire Ale and New Belgium’s newest line Ranger IPA, Kim has built a company that satisfies the original purpose statement To operate a profitable brewery which makes our love and talent manifest.

Kim and her husband Jeff Lebesch used this statement, which they wrote on a hike in Rocky Mountain National Park, to shape their vision for an unusual company.  It was 1991 and the pair had just taken their basement brews commercial. Skip ahead 19 years. Kim, now New Belgium’s CEO, rewards her co-workers (not employees) with a stake in the company and a customer cruiser bike after their first year of work and a paid trip to Belgium after five.  She leads a company that shares all financial information with employees through its open book policy, is home to Colorado’s largest privately owned solar panel and has been 100% wind-powered since 1999, a decision voted on by employees.

Making fantastic beer, hitting all marks for a triple bottom line enterprise (New Belgium’s finances aren’t public, but conjecture is the company did $100 million in sales in 2009) and biking to work in jeans is enough to constitute a Dream Job.  But like anyone whose core values push them to do great things, Kim is happiest about the lives and communities that the profits from New Belgium can help shape:

“One of the happiest learnings I’ve had as an entrepreneur…is the opportunity to use profits in ways that are consistent with who I am as a person on this planet. When you [use profits] to build vibrant communities and to do excellent, meaningful work and to touch people’s lives, it’s an incredible gift.”

Photo credit: John Johnston for

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Leave a comment
  1. Bryan Vaniman May 21, 2010 at 3:41 pm #

    Great post Olivia. I’ve enjoyed Fat Tire for several years now, but I never knew anything about New Belgium Brewing’s broader initiatives. I enjoy hearing about things like this from companies whose products I love. Thanks!

  2. admin May 21, 2010 at 3:53 pm #

    Bryan, I know how you feel. New Belgium is really great. Glad you enjoyed this and thanks for the comment.