I think the rule is, twice is a coincidence, three times is a trend…

Down-TrendI don’t know about anyone else but it certainly was a surprise to this guy when Stone Brewing abruptly laid off roughly 5% of their workforce (approximately 60 employees according to Eater) back in October when it appeared that they were in the process of taking over the world.

The San Diego craft beer giant had just positioned itself as the first outsider to strike at the heart of what is arguably the beer capital of the world by opening the first American owned craft brewery in Berlin, Germany. Couple that with the announcement of their intention to enter the hotel business with the introduction of the $26 million Stone Hotel in Escondido, it was easy to start believing that they were printing money in addition to brewing beer. Then the layoffs came… Had they over extended themselves?

Enter Green Flash and their move to open a 58,000 square foot brewery and tasting room in Virginia Beach in November of last year. While perhaps not as ambitious an endeavor as Stone Berlin but, coming on the heels of their acquisition of Alpine Beer it seemed that this was another San Diego craft brewery on a decidedly upward trajectory. Then the layoffs came…

Without getting too heavily into economics, properly executed capitalism is in reality, a balancing act. An overly conservative approach can result in failing to satisfy customer demands, which can result in overall failure. An overly aggressive approach can create unwieldy overhead and with it, a race to create demand supportive of the investment. Lose that race and again, failure is indeed an option… Or at least, a possibility.

So far, the folks at Green Flash are remaining somewhat tight-lipped, with CEO Mike Hinkley simply stating that, “We don’t have a staff reduction of any kind coming. As a matter of fact, we have positions we’re trying to fill both in San Diego and Virginia right now.”, as reported in The San Diego Reader.

From this consumer’s perspective, it seems the question brewing around these layoffs is whether what we’re witnessing is just the product of a few miscalculations or is it symptomatic of something bigger in the industry.

Should a third shoe drop in 2017, in one form or another, perhaps we’ll get closer to a definitive answer.

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