Switchback Brewing Co. owner Bill Cherry called his employees into a conference room Monday to tell them some pretty big news: He had sold the company. Many employees were shocked and confused as Cherry told them how the decision to sell would affect them, said Meagan Gorton, a Switchback employee. “I guess it’s time for you all to meet your new owners,” Cherry said.

An “audible gasp” filled the room when the Switchback employees learned that they, in fact, were the new owners of the brewing company based in Burlington. Through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan, the brewing company is now owned by 30 employees — a direction that many companies are going in, Cherry said. “It was a total surprise for the employees. Once everyone got past the initial shock, they started asking questions, but overall, everyone was having a good time,”

Gorton said she was surprised by the news, but couldn’t be happier about it now.

“I’m ecstatic,” she said. “I said since I started working that I knew he wouldn’t be the type of owner who would sell out. I think this is a huge testament to our employees and Bill’s priorities. Switchback employees have always taken pride in the company.”

In a written statement, Cherry said he would like the company to remain Vermontowned even after he retires and moves on from the brewing business, which was the main motivation behind the plan. Since the business opened its doors in 2002, Switchback has developed six original beers that it distributes to six states.

Read more: Switchback Brewing sold to workers |