In the competitive world of craft breweries, crafting exceptional beer is table stakes. In order for microbreweries to compete with larger brands and survive for the long-term, they must also build a thriving business, grow a high-performing team, and nurture an intentional culture.

Wolf’s Ridge Brewing, a Columbus, Ohio-based craft brewery, had the beer part down; they came to Aileron for help with the other parts, specifically growing the leadership skills of their ownership team — and later the entire organization — and influencing the organizational culture.

“The caliber and passion of Aileron’s team set them apart. They weren’t just delivering a program; they were truly invested in our success.”

–Alan Szuter, co-owner of Wolf’s Ridge Brewing

Wolf's Ridge Brewing - Columbus, Ohio | Aileron

Change Starts at the Top

Wolf’s Ridge was founded by a family: Alan and Mary, and Bob and Lauren. Alan is a businessman and had an avid home-brewing hobby when he decided Columbus deserved a premier microbrewery, and conveniently, Bob had enthusiasm for creating outstanding guest experiences and fine dining. The two launched Wolf’s Ridge in 2013 to bring a big-city brewery and dining experience to the Midwest.

In 2021, Alan and Bob were looking to develop themselves and their leadership team in the hopes of scaling the business; together, they attended Aileron’s Course for Presidents. During day two of the program, they learned of Aileron’s approach to leadership and were immediately drawn to conscious leadership. After Course for Presidents, they wanted to go deeper:

“We were introduced to Aileron through fellow craft entrepreneurs at Watershed Distillery and Yellow Springs Brewery, who have also worked with Aileron. In Course for Presidents, we learned how Aileron approached leadership — and we liked it. So, we subsequently followed up and continued with Becoming a More Conscious Leader.”

Together, Alan and Bob completed Aileron’s Becoming a More Conscious Leader program to grow their own leadership capacities to better lead the Wolf’s Ridge team and culture.

Installing Conscious Leadership Across the Whole Organization

Recognizing the ripple effect of strong leadership, Alan and Bob extended the opportunity to participate in the conscious leadership program to their entire team.

“Having everyone participate in the program as a group created a certain level of shared growth and bonding… At least a dozen, and maybe even more, employees have gone through the program. We continue to invest in our people by sending them through Aileron’s leadership programs.”

–Alan Szuter, co-owner of Wolf’s Ridge Brewery

Wolf's Ridge Brewing - Columbus, Ohio | Aileron

This investment in installing conscious leadership across the organization has yielded significant results. Since giving the whole organization access to Becoming a More Conscious Leader, Alan says they’ve been able to document their company’s values, define the behaviors that promote those values, and create a framework for assessing how well individuals are acting in alignment with those values.

The clarity and shared vocabulary conscious leadership provides has helped them navigate conflicts constructively and nurture a thriving, unified culture.

“We have a common vernacular now, so we can talk about things easily. For example, someone might come into the room and say, ‘I’m feeling a little level one,’ and everyone knows what they’re talking about. It’s a shared understanding that they wouldn’t have had before the program.”

–Alan Szuter, co-owner of Wolf’s Ridge Brewery

A Bright Future Ahead

Bob and Alan agree that the choice to invest in the entire team’s leadership capacity has positioned the organization to thrive in the future. Had they not made that choice, Alan says “Wolf’s Ridge would likely resemble its pre-Aileron self.”

“I feel like our organization is a much higher-performing, happier group of people with less ongoing conflict.”

–Alan Szuter, co-owner of Wolf’s Ridge Brewery

“We’re excited to see what the future holds for Wolf’s Ridge,” said Alan. “With the foundation we’ve built through Aileron’s programs, we’re confident that we can continue to innovate, grow, and share our passion for craft beer with the world.”

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