B Corps Meeting with Patagonia

B Corps

Aspiring B Corps from Asheville area meeting with Vincent Stanley (Courtesy Susanne Hackett)

“Malt with a Mission”

Call it a slogan, tagline, whatever you want. Regardless, it doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. Those four words capture our desire to connect local farmers to the craft beer industry, while taking care of our employees and our planet. Simply put, these goals have been a part of our DNA since day one.

One of the companies we’ve used as a model for our development is Patagonia, which was founded in 1973 by Yvon Chouinard. Since their inception, they’ve done things differently (and better) than most companies on the planet. On-site childcare, organic food in the cafeteria, support of organic farming, non-profit donations, the list goes on.

Last week we had the exciting opportunity to take part in a roundtable with Patagonia’s Director of Philosophy and co-author The Responsible Company, Vincent Stanley. The event was aimed at the growing number of aspiring B Corps in Asheville. B Corps operate as beneficial companies that hold themselves to high standards of ethical, environmental, and social conduct in an effort to change the status quo of capitalism in our society.

Each participant submitted questions to drive the conversation. Subjects ranged from worker compensation to political activism to creating and maintaining company culture. Vincent told the group about some of the most challenging days at the company, which led them to layoff over 100 employees due to cash flow issues in the 1980s. He also shared some of the things he took pride in, such as their 20 Million and Change Program.

His message to the audience was clear….stay true to your beliefs right from the start. For example, supporting 1% for the Planet. This level of support is relatively easy to attain for a small company, but becomes more challenging as revenues rise and more people are involved in the financial management of the company.

I left feeling like Riverbend is on the right path. We’re working hard to create a company that supports our community, maintains a work/life balance, and makes great products at the same time.


So….will Riverbend become a B Corp?

Hopefully! Achieving this goal requires an extensive assessment of every facet of the business. This includes sourcing practices, employee compensation, renewable energy utilization, etc. Early assessment scores have pushed us to expand our recycling program, improvement record-keeping, and develop an employee handbook.

We’ll keep you posted on our progress!