Co-Owner Clips: Sean Israelski
On February 6th, at our annual company meeting, Brewery Founder and Brewmaster, Bill Cherry, announced to us, the employees, that we had just become partners in ownership of the company. Switchback is officially the first 100% employee-owned brewery in Vermont via an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). We could not be any more excited because this means the company will be Vermont-owned forever. It is now up to us, the employees, to carry on with the company's mission to consistently produce quality beer and keep the brewery locally-owned and operated.
So now that we are employee-owned, we are taking this opportunity to dive into the stories of all of our co-owners. We will be delving into each of our worlds and exploring the people that make Switchback, Switchback. Every single employee plays a strong part in our company culture, mission, and values.
First up! Sean Israelski. He's been with the company since 2015, working himself up within the Tap Room Team chain and now a full-time supervisor. What impresses us the most about Sean, is his work ethic. Sean not only works at Switchback full-time but is co-owner of another local Vermont Company, Powe Snowboards. Powe specializes in creating environmentally conscious snowboards and from start to finish, production to sales, the environmental impact of each step is considered. They work to combine environmentally conscious materials, real environmental actions, community involvement, and high end art to create their incredible snowboards. We even loved Powe’s mission and artwork so much we used them to create our 2017 Switchback snowboards.
We caught up with Sean at the brewery to ask him some questions on his company and our recent shift to employee-ownership.
What inspired you to start Powe Snowboards? Both attending the University of Vermont and now living in state of Vermont for 6 amazing years really opened my eyes to the importance of sustainability and social responsibility. As avid snowboarders and environmentally conscious students, my friends and I would often have discussions about the gap between the snow sports industry and the sustainability movement. There was this paradox that both groups held a lot of the same demographic and cared about the same issues, yet neither was really incorporating the other into their fold. After growing increasingly concerned about this and seeing a niche that could be filled within the snowboard community that would directly target this issue, my college buddies and I decided to send it. Our mission was to start up our own snowboard company which would incorporate the use of sustainable materials, deploy environmental initiatives and actions, and spread awareness about the human effect on our environment and the mountains we ride.
How do you balance the two jobs? Passion. When you are really passionate about something, you’ll find the time and energy to make it work. When I graduated from the University of Vermont, there were two things I was very passionate about: snowboarding and quality craft beer. I guess I just decided that I was going to consume myself with these two passions and make them my living. My life is snowboards and beer...not too shabby.
How did you feel when Bill announced the news that he sold the brewery to us? Surprised, shocked, stoked out of my mind and tad-bit nervous. I think my first complete thought after it settled in for a moment was, “ I’m 23 and I own two companies. How did this happen?” accompanied by an overwhelming feeling of excitement and self-fulfillment. Life is good.
Find out more about our transition to employee-ownership here, and stay tuned for the next Co-owner Clip!