Devils Backbone Brewing: Integrated Independence?

16 Pages Posted: 9 Sep 2020

See all articles by Douglas J. Thomas

Douglas J. Thomas

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Jenny Craddock

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Abstract

This case presents a scenario wherein Hayes Humphreys, the Chief Operating Officer of Devils Backbone Brewing Company (DBB), has just attended a quarterly summit held by Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI) for all 12 of the North American craft breweries in its High End business unit. It is the summer of 2018, and Humphreys has had over a year and a half to observe DBB's evolution since its acquisition by Belgium-headquartered ABI in 2016. Through interviews with Humphreys and other members of DBB's management team, the case introduces students to ABI's selective approach to integrating the Virginia-based craft brewery into the High End over the first 20 months following the corporate integration, while also asking them to consider the High End's strategic direction and future. Following this introduction to the ABI-DBB integration, the cases asks students to consider the following: Where did DBB feel the most changes due to ABI's ownership? Where did DBB benefit the most from being an ABI brewery, and where did it feel the pain of bureaucracy most acutely? What new strengths and opportunities did DBB most benefit from thanks to ABI, and where would challenges exist in the future?

Excerpt

UVA-OM-1616

Jan. 22, 2020

Devils Backbone Brewing: Integrated Independence?

[The Anheuser-Busch InBev acquisition will give us] strategic knowledge and information and help...to continue to grow our brewery in the direction that we have always wanted to grow...[Devils Backbone Brewing will maintain] a high level of autonomy and continue its own authentic DNA within [ABI's High End unit].

—Steve Crandall, founder, Devils Backbone Brewing

Hayes Humphreys, chief operating officer of Devils Backbone Brewing Company (DBB), was traveling home to Charlottesville, Virginia, in June 2018, from the most recent quarterly summit held by Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI) for all 12 of the North American craft breweries in its High End business unit. Humphreys, who had joined DBB in 2011 and witnessed the company's evolution following its acquisition by Belgium-headquartered ABI in 2016, reflected on the progress that had been made in integrating the Virginia-based craft brewery into ABI's High End business unit over the past 20 months. Indeed, during his first year in the ABI universe, the focus of the quarterly summits for ABI's craft breweries seemed to be strictly on integrating the businesses into the ABI ecosystem; but in recent months, with the bulk of integration behind them, the focus had changed to the High End unit's strategic direction and the future.

. . .

Keywords: beer, craft beer, acquisition, integration, information systems, strategy, company culture, purchasing, entrepreneurship, cross-brewing

Suggested Citation

Thomas, Douglas J. and Craddock, Jenny, Devils Backbone Brewing: Integrated Independence?. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3682614 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3682614

Douglas J. Thomas

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

Jenny Craddock (Contact Author)

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

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