Co-Owner Clips: Darby Kitchel

Switchback employee-owned

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 ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan). 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.

Next up: Darby Kitchel!

Known at the brewery for his fantastic fashion choices and for walking into the room with a resounding, “Hey fam!”

What we want folks to understand most about Darby, is his pure and unadulterated passion for each and everything he sets his mind to. Darby has had several jobs here at the brewery, moving up quickly and absolutely slaying each and every position along the way.

Darby only started at Switchback in 2015 as a part-timer in the Tap Room. He quickly worked his way up to full-time and by the end of 2016, he was full-force managing the Tap Room. Throughout this entire transition, Darby seized the opportunity to focus on his passion and grow with a company he said he could stand behind.

“Right before I officially started managing the Tap Room, I sat down with Brewery Founder, Bill, and told him that I was 100% in for the long haul. I told Bill that I was more than excited to manage the Tap Room but I had a true goal to represent the company and speak on behalf of our brand outside of the Tap Room. This resonated with Bill and throughout that Summer I started to do promotional events.”

By 2017, he had officially passed on the Tap Room torch and began to make the move into the marketing and sales world.

These days, Darby is one of four folks on our sales team and can usually be found on the road throughout New England, slinging Switchback. On a day-to-day basis, he heads to stores, bars and restaurants to sell the brand and to give our accounts the love and gratitude that they deserve. He also speaks on behalf of the company at beer festivals, tap takeovers, beer dinners, samplings and other various promotional events. In addition to this, he is out and about visiting places that haven’t yet had Switchback to introduce them to the unfiltered goodness that we brew.

“Since I began at Switchback in 2015, it was always a goal of mine to be able to go on the road and help our company grow. Words really can’t explain how grateful I am for how all of this has worked out.”

We gave Darby a call in his hotel room after a long day on the road to learn more about him and his thoughts on our recent switch to employee-ownership.

Where are you from and what were you doing before working at Switchback? I was born in Randolph and raised in the beautiful town of Sharon, Vermont. Before I was working at Switchback, I worked for a small sports network based out of Lyndonville, Vermont. We would produce the live streams for College and High School sports. I was basically the guy who worked the camera, switched between commercials and put together the instant replays. This job was based around the school year so it was perfect timing when I came across the opportunity to work at Switchback.

What is your favorite Switchback Brew? This is one of the harder questions for me to answer. Since I have started working for Switchback I have always loved trying new things. Our rotational beers cover a wonderful spectrum of beer styles. Our new year-round release the Citra-Pils is quite possibly the most refreshing beer I have ever had. Coming into Summer I would have to say that Citra-Pils has been my beer of choice lately. That being said, I always come back to the Switchback Ale. The balanced complexity of the Ale makes it hands down my go to beer in any situation. (Can you tell he’s in sales?)

What’s your favorite thing about working at Switchback? It’s a family here. We are a small company that has just reached the milestone of 30 employees but each person that works here plays their roll (or several rolls). We have an amazing group of people that make up our company.

How do you feel about our transition to employee ownership? The transition to employee-ownership really reflects the values that Bill has instilled in this company since he first started it. He has always made sure that he has taken care of his employees and now has ensured that Switchback will be Vermont-owned forever. The day after Bill broke the news about us becoming employee-owned we all came to work and it was as if nothing had changed. Of course there was buzz in the air but we all were back to work to continue to make the great beer that so many people love. In a nut shell, I couldn’t be more excited about this transition. Our future is in the right hands.

It’s employees like Darby, who are so passionate about this industry and our brewery we call home, that truly make this company what it is. We’re so thankful for every single Switchback employee whose devotion truly allows authenticity in everything we do.