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Jan 24, 2018
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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Posts Tagged ‘Tom Schlafly’

The Scoop: Schlafly co-founder Dan Kopman to step down

Thursday, December 15th, 2016

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This New Year’s Eve, raise a pint to Schlafly co-founder Dan Kopman, who will step down from his position as board co-chairman of The Saint Louis Brewery and Schlafly Beer on Dec. 31. Kopman and Tom Schlafly founded the brewery in 1991 and have since turned it into an institution.

Kopman and Schlafly sold a majority share to Sage Capital in 2012. At the time of the sale, Kopman agreed to stay on for five years. Now, as the agreement reaches its sunset, he announced that he will leave the venerable brewery to pursue other interests. He declined to give specifics on his future plans.

With sales totaling $20 million, Kopman has much to be proud of, but said his greatest joy has been working with a talented group of people and having a positive effect on downtown and Maplewood.

“I’m most proud of the people that have worked for us and continue to work with us,” Kopman said. “We’re lucky to have changed the beer culture and improve the neighborhoods around the Bottleworks and Tap Room.

While he said it was impossible to choose his favorite Schlafly brew, Kopman did single out and praise Schlafly’s current leadership. “There’s a good team in place there,” he said. “Tom is the chairman of the board, and James Pendegraft is doing a great job as CEO, and of course Stephen Hale is a great ambassador.”

Kopman also expressed gratitude to the customers and patrons who have enjoyed Schlafly’s hospitality over the years. All in all, he said, “It was a blast.”

 

Photo by Carmen Troesser

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The Scoop: The next 20 years at Schlafly: Majority ownership by Sage Capital, eyes for a new brewery – and a farm

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

062110_SchlaflyThe St. Louis Brewery, which most St. Louisans simply refer to as Schlafly Beer, is adding names to its ownership roster. Yesterday, the company announced that it had signed a purchase agreement to transfer 60-percent ownership of the business to a local investor group led by Wes Jones and John Lemkemeier, co-founders of St. Louis-based private equity firm Sage Capital, as reported by Evan Benn of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The deal, which will be completed once licenses and permits have been issued by government agencies, will posit the 13-person investor group as majority shareholders. However, that doesn’t mean co-founders Tom Schlafly and Dan Kopman will be saying farewell to the company they founded 20 years ago. Both Schlafly and Kopman will retain an interest in the company, with Schlafly initially retaining 20-percent ownership and Kopman at least 10 percent. Schlafly will serve as chairman of the board while also working to promote the Schlafly brand, while Kopman will remain in his role as CEO and also serve on the new board. In addition, 10 percent of the business will be available for purchase by eligible employees. (In the April 2011 issue of Sauce, Schlafly discussed reasons for wanting to make shares available to employees: “The employees who have been here a long time are the ones who have made the business what it is and who understand our mission, whatever that is. If I want to see that continued, I would trust their vision, rather than some outsider who had never heard of the brewery before.”)

While changes to day-to-day operations at Schlafly are not anticipated, The Scoop did discuss down-the-road operations with Kopman, particularly regarding his (paraphrased) comments published yesterday in an article by The St. Louis Business Journal, that “the Sage investment will give the business deeper pockets in the event the brewery needs to expand and build another production facility.”

When and where will the next Schlafly brewery be? “There is no timetable for building another brewery. That the site would produce beer for the next 20 years … a lot of thought that goes into that. The more time we take, the better that decision would be informed,” said Kopman, who estimated that the company would need somewhere in the realm of 40 acres for a new facility. Kopman also noted that he was “intrigued with growing vegetables. A brewery with a farm with it; we are very interested in the urban farming movement. Although there is no plan – I could see a future farm and brewery, but I have no idea what that looks like.”

As for a location, “We’d take the same approach as when we decided to build The Bottleworks,” Kopman said, explaining that the city of St. Louis was a first choice, but “if we can t find the right site, we would look elsewhere … probably in the metropolitan St. Louis area. We’ll look as close to home as possible to start with.”

The Scoop: Schlafly’s head of brewing discusses possible sale

Monday, June 21st, 2010

062110_SchlaflyAs first reported in the St. Louis Business Journal on Friday, the founders of The Saint Louis Brewery, Tom Schlafly and Dan Kopman, are in preliminary discussions about selling their majority stakes in the company. James “Otto” Ottolini, head of brewing operations for Schlafly contacted Sauce to discuss what has transpired thus far and his involvement in these events.

“Tom and Dan are open to selling their controlling stake in the company. I’ve been talking to them and working on it. I got my MBA to assist with the exit strategy for the owners. I just didn’t expect to use it so soon,” stated Ottolini, who earned his MBA in May from Washington University’s Olin Business School Executive MBA program. “But this process could take years,” he added.

According to Ottolini, on June 2, Schlafly and Kopman met with him and eight other members of the company’s senior management to announce their intentions. The following day, the senior management group met to draft a statement notifying all employees. The statement was read to employees on June 7.

When asked which employees might be able to purchase a stake in the company, Ottolini responded that it is unclear at this time. “You can’t separate the (beer) brand from two restaurants. An employee stock ownership program with a restaurant? There are not many models like that. That’s almost putting the cart before the horse, because the main financing is going to have to come from somewhere else. You need to have an ownership group. It’s not like employees can pass the hat and have enough to buy the company.”

So who might be among those new investors? “Essentially, we’re looking for more Tom Schlaflys. We need to find someone who is happy with Tom Schlafly and a beer being called Schlafly,” replied Ottolini, adding that the investor would “need to know the right way to run a beer company – this beer company.”

Ottolini stated that the estimated worth of the company has yet to be determined but cited last year’s revenue as $11.7 million.

“It’s a great opportunity. This is not a distressed sale,” he said.


– Ligaya Figueras

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