Creature Comforts is a B-Corp Certified craft brewery based in Athens, Georgia that has a social purpose rooted in fostering human connection.
Founded in 2014, in recent times, the corporate has significant expanded within the southeastern US and it’ll soon open a brewery and taproom in Los Angeles, CA. Throughout its growth it has prioritised maintaining its values.
While many firms struggle with mission drift as they grow, I desired to learn more about how Creature Comforts keeps values and purpose front and center because it has scaled. My recent discussion with Fenwick Broyard, Vice President of Culture at Creature Comforts Brewing Co. provides plenty of insights about how about how firms can address this challenge.
Christopher Marquis: What are the values of Creature Comforts Brewing Co. and why was it essential to stipulate these from the beginning?
Fenwick Broyard: In all honesty, we actually didn’t have our values outlined from the very start. We had some pillars upon which we built our business, including quality, professionalism, community, balance, and creativity, but our values didn’t get articulated until three years in; and, once they did, they were equal parts aspiration and discovery.
We see our values as the reply to the query of “how” for our purpose and mission. We accomplish our purpose of “fostering human connection” through fidelity to our mission of “being a force for good through the event of industry-leading beverages and experiences.” The best way we stay on mission is by adhering to the values which were developed by a cross-functional Council Group, in addition to the associated behavioral expectations which were outlined in our Code of Conduct. Specifically, the values we’ve established for ourselves at Creature Comforts are:
- Crave Curiosity: A curious mind leads to raised living.
- Moderation Matters: In life as in beer, being balanced is best.
- Be For People: Be inclusive. Advocate for equity. Extend respect.
- Extend Kindness: Start with trust. No gossip. Give grace.
- Make It Higher: Whether your work or your community, make it higher. The very best idea wins.
- Leave a Legacy: Arrange your successors for achievement.
Marquis: Creature Comforts relies in a small town in Georgia, yet has experienced growth in distribution throughout the Southeast and now could be set to open in Los Angeles. How have you ever maintained your values while scaling up?
Broyard: I believe that’s been an area of opportunity for us. We experienced near meteoric growth on the outset and added almost 20 employees a 12 months over the primary six years. In reality, I’d say in some ways the market pulled us “out over our skis”…after which there was the pandemic. Pre-pandemic, I’d say we were doing an excellent job of maintaining our values, exactly because they were derivatives of the thing our staff loved most about our product – i.e. that it “fostered human connection.” We built a culture around having tough conversations face-to-face, and over a beer; after which, against every instinct and desire we had, we needed to shutter our offices and promote social distancing while still attempting to “foster human connection” virtually. Together with all other businesses, we’ve struggled to recreate the organic connections upon which innovation and teamwork depend; but, with the opening of our first-ever headquarters in a number of weeks, I’m confident we’ll find a way to recapture our cultural magic. We’re at a novel moment in our company’s history, wherein the best possible thing we are able to do is return to our Purpose, and have it serve because the North Star by which we navigate the treacherous journey of scaling.
Marquis: What made Creature Comforts hunt down B Corp Certification? How has this impacted your day-to-day operations?
Broyard: We prefer to joke to ourselves that B-Corp certification sought us, since it was through the remark of a member of University of Georgia’s business school that we even learned concerning the certification. We were contacted by a program director at UGA’s Terry College of Business, who gave us a book on the topic, along together with his assertion that (in his estimation) we “already were a B Corp.” And, though we’d never even heard of a B Corp before receiving that advice, our CEO after which Community Manager each agreed that certification could be price pursuing.
We specifically pursued B-Corp certification to have it impact our day-to-day operations, inasmuch because the B Impact Assessment has served, for us, as a repository of best practices in all five impact areas. We’ve pulled several ideas, and written dozens of policies, based on continual engagement with the assessment, led by our current Community Manager, and self-proclaimed “resident B-Keeper,” Ally Hellenga. Finally, along with program and policy ideas, we’ve also used the assessment to ascertain goals by establishing certification point-breaks as targets for our internal and external efforts. Excitedly, we’ve just put all of this on display with the discharge of our first-ever Impact Report, released in celebration of annual B Corp Month.
Marquis: How is sustainability prioritized in your brewing process? How do you balance making an awesome product while mitigating waste?
Broyard: As we have now across all five of the opposite areas of the B Impact Assessment, we’ve set aggressive targets for ourselves in sustainability. In reality, our current company-wide sustainability KPI is to scale back our 2023 carbon emissions right down to the equivalent of what they were back in 2020…back once we were producing 30,000 fewer barrels of beer than we’re set to provide this 12 months.
Recently, we have also achieved TRUE Silver Level Certification for our zero-waste efforts at our production facility, with a diversion rate of 99.8%. Achieving this requires us to be committed to identifying efficiencies at every step of the brewing and packaging processes, in addition to through our shipping and fleets, and each other place where we’re consuming energy. Monitoring all of that is the job of our full-time Sustainability Manager, Jacob Yarbrough, who literally teaches us all something latest daily. But ultimately, I even have to say that our commitment to sustainability is admittedly the outgrowth of the guts of our co-founder Adam Beauchamp, for whom sustainability is as high a priority as quality and safety within the production of our product.
Marquis: Creature Comforts has several employee-led impact programs. How do you foster an organization culture that prioritizes community involvement?
Broyard: As essential because it is to leverage our resources as an organization, it’s just as critical to motivate our people to interact with their community—becoming not only residents, but residents. To this end, we introduced an Worker Volunteer Program in 2022 with the goal of constructing serving easy—creating accessible and meaningful service touchpoints for all employees all year long. We assembled a cross-functional team of Community Impact Ambassadors to assist discover service opportunities their teams could get enthusiastic about and that will fit inside their respective work rhythms—again, our goal being to make serving our community as easy and accessible for each Creature Comforts worker as possible. We also created and launched in 2021 the Eudaimonia award, to annually recognize the worker who best exemplified our commitment to creating our community higher. In 2022 alone, 73 individual employees (55% of the corporate) served a complete of 1,785+ hours, serving a complete of 87 beneficiaries – i.e. a mixture of nonprofits, corporate consultations, and long-term mentorships. And, in 2023, we’re hoping to do even higher, having established as our community KPI raising the share of Creatures serving in a given 12 months from 55% to 75%.
Marquis: What makes a brewery an awesome vessel for positive social impact?
Broyard: In accordance with historian Stephen Mansfield, corporate citizenship was born in a brewery. In his 2009 book, The Seek for God and Guinness: A biography of the beer that modified the world, Mansfield got down to discover who the primary company on historical record was to have taken the decision to serve seriously. And that pursuit led him to 18th Century Dublin, to St. James Gate, and to Guinness.
Anyone who seriously reads Mansfield’s account will conclude that Guiness was the primary business so as to add strategic value to their community. It’s our belief that craft breweries are ideally positioned to proceed that legacy, each due to the gathering potential of our product and spaces and the spirit of collaboration by which our industry operates. And, since it is, to a big extent place-based, craft beer has the chance to construct deep roots in community. And, our belief is that since we’re going to be a force regardless of what, we may as well be a force for good.