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? Sarah Diaz!
Fun facts we’ve come to know about Sarah: She loves cake. She’s the compost queen and bakes some mean banana bread. She makes a killer MC and can play the spoons. But more importantly, she’s one of the most passionate, spunky and positive thinking employees to ever grace us here at Switchback.
If you’ve ever been to the Tap Room at the brewery, Sarah should be a familiar face. She’s been slinging pints in the Tap Room for only around a year now, but if you meet her you’ll agree, it feels like you’ve known her forever. Sarah was only in town for three months before we snatched her up to work in the Tap Room (sorry, Burlington!). These days she spends most of her time sharing her wealth of industry and Switchback knowledge to our customers. In her words, “…in the Tap Room, education and conversation are huge & I gotta say, I love nerding out about beer with people at the bar. Serving perfectly poured, cold beers to my comrades in production at the end of their shift also feels real good.”
And this level of passion doesn’t just stop in the Tap Room. She has also become an involved and active member at the brewery when it comes to our recent shift to employee-ownership.
We sat down with Sarah in the Tap Room to help you understand more about her spirit and why we admire her so much.
Where are you from originally? I’m a New Yorker 100% - born and raised in Queens but my family is now in Adirondack, NY. Yes there is an Adirondack, NY...it has a zip code and a post office.
What’s your favorite Switchback beer? Favorite isn’t really a word I use about our beers, it’s more about the mood I’m in and what beer will fit. I mean, the Switchback Ale is unstoppable, that’s why we all work here. But otherwise my go-to balanced brews are Roasted Red Ale and Extra Pale Ale. But hey, the palate is always changing.
Favorite music to listen to while working in the Tap Room? Again - all about my mood. Could be anything from the Hamilton Soundtrack to Britney Spears to Tupac to Hall & Oates. It’s about whatever I want to jive and vibe to. 80's pop if I’m feeling extra dancey.
What’s your favorite thing about working at Switchback? Switchback is a go-to for a lot of serious craft beer drinking, especially in Vermont. Not only is the beer approachable and well-balanced (making that part of my job in the Tap Room easy), but the brand’s commitment to integrity, consistency and education are values I am proud to represent.
How did you feel when Bill broke the news of going employee-owned? When Bill broke the news I remember thinking, “Cool! This sounds kind of like a co-op but he keeps saying ESOP, so it’s different, but cool!” I looked around and nobody really understood what had happened but we decided it meant we would be taken care of here at the brewery. Then I got to hug Bill and drink Switchbacks with my comrades. Not exactly what I expected from the annual company meeting! I’m stoked about being an employee-owner so getting educated and engaged with the employee ownership aspect at the brewery is definitely a future goal of mine.
Sarah, thank you for being you.