The hits keep on coming thanks to COVID-19, but word that the trade organization had laid off one of its most visible spokespersons, is nothing short of a body blow…
This one hurts more than most…
If you had any doubt as to the severity of the of this unprecedented pandemic on the craft beer industry, Friday’s announcement that Julia Herz had been let go, along with eight other staffers, signaled that the Brewers Association might be in severe economic trouble and possibly entering survival mode.
It was the second round of layoffs the Boulder-based trade organization. In April the Brewers Association laid off 23% of its staff including Andy Sparhawk who was the editor at CraftBeer.com, the organization’s beer lifestyle website. “Herz then filled that position, according to Good Beer Hunting and that “It’s unclear what role the site will play in the future.”
As Brewbound reported, Herz, one of the industry’s most prominent female voices in a male-dominated field, was not the only high profile staff member to exit the BA in a second round of job cuts that also included:
- Acacia Coast, who served as brewers guilds manager on the BA’s government affairs team, and worked for the organization for nearly a decade
- Gary Glass, director of the American Homebrewers Association, who had been with the organization for 20 years
- Kathryn Porter Drapeau, event association director, who had been with the group for more than 19 years
This from the Brewer Association’s Bob Pease June 26 email to BA members titled “Difficult News”…
Like most of you, the Brewers Association has not been untouched by the current global health pandemic and economic crisis. Despite our best efforts to weather the impacts of these events through cost-savings measures already implemented, the recent shift of the festival portion of the Great American Beer Festival from the annual in-person gathering in Denver to an online experience, combined with the cancellation of all our 2020 events and the subsequent loss of nearly 70% of our annual revenue, has forced us to make the difficult decision to make further reductions to our staff.
Yesterday, we laid off an additional nine members of our team—an additional 17% reduction in staff for a total reduction of 35% of our workforce. In total, 24 employees have been affected to date. With these reductions also comes some internal restructuring to streamline efficiencies and maximize our support to our members as we right size the organization and best position the association for success in the coming years. More on these details will be forthcoming.
I’d like to reiterate that our commitment to you, our members, remains unwavering and stronger than ever. Over the course of the past few months, we have continued to provide relevant and timely resources to our brewing community as we navigate these uncharted waters together. Examples include robust online and virtual content for both professional and amateur members via CBC Online and Homebrew Con Online; our COVID-19 Resource Center of business-critical, shutdown-related technical and financial resources; a reimagined Great American Beer Festival competition and virtual festival; deferred and monthly membership payment options; and tireless advocacy in Washington, D.C.
With more than 5,000 adopters, the Independent Craft Brewer Seal has achieved critical momentum thanks to all of you. Rest assured, the Brewers Association will continue to promote the seal to keep small and independent craft brewers top of mind with beer lovers. We will continue to execute our national beer holidays of National Independent Beer Run Day, Small Brewery Sunday, and American Craft Beer Week, and the 2020 GABF virtual festival will provide a new vehicle to promote small and independent craft brewers to beer lovers nationwide.
We will continue to work with you, the state guilds, and our legislative partners to fight for small and independent craft brewers on the state and federal level. Many brewers are enjoying new access to market capabilities, and making permanent curbside pickup, delivery, and direct-to-consumer shipping is an area we will have enhanced involvement in with the state guilds.
Such resources and action ensure that we will continue to promote and protect American craft brewers, their beers, and the community of brewing enthusiasts.
The Brewers Association’s fortune mirrors the fortunes of the American craft beer community. No one knows how long the pandemic and current economic crisis will last but it’s clear that it will leave the craft brewing community forever changed. We look forward to forging the path ahead to a bright future with you, together,
Thank you for your support and membership.
Bob Pease, President & CEO Brewers Association
The BA’s now 35% staff reduction comes in a year that has seen the impact COVID-19 lead to the cancellation of the trade organization’s biggest money generating events including the Craft Brewers Conference which was to take place in San Antonio, Texas in April; SAVOR’s return to DC in May, and the Great American Beer Festival planned for Denver, which will now go forward as an online only event.
The American Homebrewers Association (an affiliate of the Brewers Association) also cancelled Homebrew.com, its annual gathering which had been scheduled to take place in Nashville in June.