Blues and Brews: New Holland Brewing Company Builds People, Community

Julie Bitely

| 3 min read

New Holland staff presenting a Community Tap check to members of Fermenta.
As sales of its inventive craft brews and artisanal spirits grow ever higher, New Holland Brewing Company is committed to its roots, particularly the people and places, that have grown the company’s success. “We value people – our employees and customers – and community investment is huge for us,” said Heather Smith, human resources coordinator for the company.

Brewing community partnerships

At their flagship location in Holland and at their pub in Grand Rapids, New Holland actively looks for ways to support the communities that have supported their business growth.
  • One of their newest give-back initiatives is a Community Tap at the Grand Rapids location, The Knickerbocker. Each month, $1 from every 16 oz. and 20 oz. beer poured on the community tap is donated to a non-profit. So far, they’ve given back to Fermenta, West Grand Neighborhood Association and the Westside Collaborative. In September, the Community Tap beneficiary will be the Friends & Families of Cystic Fibrosis.
  • Monthly volunteer efforts in Grand Rapids and Holland have focused on community partnerships with organizations such as Samaritas and Kids Food Basket. A recent volunteer event centered on packing backpacks for foster children going back to school.
  • The brewery has hosted and supported many community fundraisers for friends and family of employees and patrons dealing with unexpected financial crises due to medical issues or life circumstances.
  • Sustainability efforts mean they locally-source as many ingredients as possible for their food and drink menus, supporting local agricultural producers to keep investment in the communities they do business in.

Distilling confidence in employees

Smith said the core of New Holland’s workforce is comprised of young people, ages 21 to 30. They want to work for an employer that’s invested in the community and provides ample opportunity for volunteerism and personal development. Flexibility in scheduling and an understanding that life is about more than work help them attract and retain quality workers, she explained. “We are firm believers in work-life integration,” Smith said. It’s even baked into their New Holland Brewing Company 2020 Vision employee handbook, a document that outlines the company’s values and goals. “We believe that for our employees to be happy, fully engaged, and healthy, a balance between their work life and their personal life must be found,” the handbook states under a section titled “We Value People”. An employee assistance program is available to help staff get through difficult family or personal circumstances and opportunities for tuition reimbursement allow for personal growth. Annual retreats provide more opportunities to discover individual strengths in and outside the workplace. Gym discounts are offered to help employees focus on their health, and the company is hoping to roll out a wellness program in 2019, with help from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. An employee quoted in the handbook sums it up:
"When we started having annual retreats, I realized the owners cared about the growth of our employees. Because the retreats weren’t just about how to sell more beer and grow the bottom line – they were about how to grow as human beings. Which, it turns out, will probably help us sell more beer.”
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Photos courtesy of New Holland Brewing Company

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