On February 6th, 2017 at our annual company meeting, Brewery Founder, 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 New England via an ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan). We could not be any more excited because this means it is now up to us, the employees, to carry on the company's mission to consistently produce quality beer and keep the brewery Vermont-owned and operated forever.
So now that we're employee-owned, we're taking the 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.
Next up? Dan Tomaino
As our resident artist and musician, Dan has been a strong creative force at Switchback for over 10 years. If you frequent the brewery, chances are you’ve seen his pantings on Co-Owner Clips: Dan Tomainothe wall or have heard him strumming on his guitar in the Tap Room. And like many creative souls, we can't recall seeing him wear a single work shirt that wasn't black. But where Dan inspires us the most, is up in the big brewhouse where he’s perfected the form of art that we know best: brewing damn good beer.
We sat down with Dan to find out more about both himself and his perspective after 10 years at Switchback.
What’s your favorite Switchback beer? Switchback Ale is the one I've found myself still loving after 10 years. Like good music, there is always something new to discover.
Favorite music to listen to while brewing and why? Depends on my mood, what's going on and who I'm working with. I won't narrow it down too much, but needless to say we listen to a lot of WEEN, PRIMUS, PINK FLOYD and a classic rock. Every time we get a new batch of employees, more styles come in. Some are great, some not so much, but we all try to take turns and sometimes you find something new that blows your mind. Switchback beer may be the life blood of the brewery and the crew it's mind and muscle, but music is the soul that energizes us daily.
How have you seen Switchback grow over the years and where do you see us going in the future? Having been with the company for over 10 years, I've seen it progress from a tiny 5 person operation into the growing business it is today. This has meant, that often I've had to relearn the way I do my job as we acquire new equipment. People have come and gone but on a whole, it's been amazing to watch hard work get rewarded. People really love our product and it feels great to be able to spread it further and further. In the future, I would like to see us continue on the trajectory that was laid out many years ago...none of us have a profound need to see the brewery take over the worCo-Owner Clips: Dan Tomainold. Being a high quality regional brewery would be just fine with me. Quality, after all, should always beat quantity.
How did you feel when Bill broke the news of going employee-owned? Sheer panic as he told us he was selling the company. Jeff (Bill's business partner) was sitting next to me and was watching; trying very hard to hide his amusement as my hat came off and my face grew pale. Panic then became dumb shock which then became overwhelming joy. I was always proud to work for Switchback regardless of whether or not I was an owner. It is a great feeling to know that Bill is more concerned about the continuation of his legacy rather then the wealth it generates. Always in the back of my mind was the worry that sooner or later, big beer would swallow us little folk: NO LONGER!
What’s your favorite thing about working at Switchback? I think it's a toss up between the people I work with and the fact that I create something for a living. It's not everyday those two things exist side to side. Being able to make something that people all over love and then get together with the people who helped to make it..to enjoy that product is an amazing feeling.
Cheers Dan! Thanks for all your dedication and passion throughout the years.