Saint Louis Brewery (Schlafly) Owners Discussing Sale, but Nothing Imminent

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The St. Louis Business Journal reports today that St. Louis Brewery co-founders Tom Schlafly and Dan Kopman have opened discussions with senior staff about selling their ownership stake in the company, which produces Schlafly beer.

Kopman, who is the brewery's director of operations, tells Gut Check that while discussions have begun, "There's no great sense of urgency. The thought was, Tom [Schlafly] doesn't have family that will come into the business, and I don't have family likely to come into the business. We started to think, 'What's going to happen?'"

Kopman adds, "We've got employees who've really helped us get from [point] A to B. It made sense to start the conversation [with them] now. It could take a number of years to figure this out. Tom and I felt it was really important -- we wanted to have a very open process with our employees. There are no secrets to hide."

Kopman also notes that the company has accomplished much of what it wanted to do upon its founding in 1991: "Which is survive as the other brewer in St. Louis," he says, laughing.

Among the company's current projects are an expansion of the brewing capacity at the Schlafly Bottleworks in Maplewood, nearly finished, and a half-million dollars of renovations at the Schlafly Tap Room to coincide with its twentieth anniversary next year.

Kopman insists that the company is looking for "a local ownership group that will maintain and build upon what we've created. We're going to be living here a long time [after any sale]. We don't want to live here and see what we've created diminished. We want to see the two zip codes we've improved get even better."

Adds Kopman, "We feel it's really important for [a potential] ownership group to include salaried employees. The average tenure of our senior staff is getting on ten years. They feel like they are part of something that is more than just making beer."

There is no timetable for a sale. In fact, says Kopman, "If the right situation doesn't appear in terms of new group, then we won't do it. We'll just keep going. There's lots and lots of options available. Nothing has to happen."

Regardless what happens, Kopman foresees a bright future for the Saint Louis Brewery: "This company works because of our brewing capacity, our selling capacity and our ability to throw pretty good parties and entertain people. I see that continuing to be the mission. Make some really good beer and throw some really good parties."
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