Saturday, November 01, 2014

Hangar 24 brewery lays off two dozen employees during restructuring

REDLANDS >> Around two dozen employees from Hangar 24 Brewery were laid off earlier this week as part of a restructuring effort, the owner said Thursday.

According to brewery founder and Master Brewer Ben Cook, the layoffs came after the company noticed it needed a different sales and marketing team and personnel to address account needs.

“When we first started we had numerous, smaller accounts but now we are in larger grocery and bar and restaurant chains which requires (a) different (team),” he said. “To that end, we’ve made some changes, adding about 50 new people and letting less than two dozen go. To help us continue with our growth pattern, we created a new director of operations position and we even had to upgrade to an enterprise level accounting system.”

Cook said that the new system caused a delay in payment to vendors and that Hangar is currently “catching up” as a “result of that system changeover.”

Earlier this year, Hangar celebrated its sixth anniversary with its second AirFest, which took over the Redlands Municipal Airport. The celebration was planned to raise funds for the organization’s Hangar 24 Charities and celebrate the business’ growth.

Since its opening, the Redlands-based company has not only become a destination for beer lovers from across Southern California, but is one of Redlands’ most successful businesses.

One of the employees who was laid off early this week spoke to us on condition of anonymity, and said the company was facing a “financial crisis,” but Cook says that is not true.

“We are still growing like gangbusters,” Cook said. “Our revenues increased by 50 percent to reach an all-time high over the past year, and our distribution channels have also surged by 52 percent. As a result of this massive growth, we’re having to make sure we have the right people in the right seats on the bus right now.”

Expansion plans for 2015 are currently underway, along with the undertaking of next year’s AirFest, Cook added.

The Airfest will once again benefit Hangar 24 Charities, which is now run by an all-volunteer team after its former executive director Catherine Grinnan and the brewery “mutually parted ways” earlier this summer.

“The charity is a different entity from the brewery, so whatever issues the brewery is having is different from a start-up charity. I’m sad people lost their jobs, but I can’t officially comment on that,” she said. “A lot of times there’s a restructuring and companies do that. But I don’t know why.”

In addition to the AirFest, Hangar officials are also in discussions with the city and officials from other neighboring communities to open and build a new brewery and off-site tasting room.

“In our beverage distributor division, we added several new craft brewery and non-alcoholic suppliers, and added new distributors in California and in other states like Nevada and Arizona. (And) we also opened up a new 35,000-square foot distribution center in Redlands this year,” Cook said.

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