KALAMAZOO –– Laura Bell will step down as CEO of Bell’s Brewery Inc. on May 18.
The top executive of the Southwest Michigan-based brewery, the seventh largest in the nation, informed distributors of her decision in a letter on Thursday night, according to a report in Craft Brew News.
Larry Bell, the brewery’s founder and president — and Laura Bell’s father — confirmed the news in a phone call Friday afternoon with MiBiz, saying that his daughter will remain a shareholder and board member of the brewery and keep an office there.
“I continue in my role as president of the company, which I never left,” Larry Bell said when asked to confirm whether he’d be stepping back into day-to-day operations, adding that he expects his daughter to take some time away from the brewery, but that she could be back in the future.
“In many family-owned businesses, young people are required to go have a job somewhere else. I wouldn’t be surprised to see her back in a role. She’ll still be part of the company,” Larry Bell said.
Laura Bell was not immediately available for comment on Friday afternoon.
Larry Bell added that he expects the company will hire someone to take on a role akin to an executive vice president.
While saying that he expects no overall changes as part of the transition, Bell said that transitions such as a CEO stepping down represents an opportunity to examine overall operations to see where things could be improved, if necessary.
“We’re in really solid shape,” Bell said of the company’s performance. “We continue on our capital project and have some exciting things coming online. We’re not looking to sell the company. … In reality, there’s not a lot of big changes here.”
That sentiment was expressed by Laura Bell in her letter to distributors, according to the Craft Brew News report.
“We are not selling and will remain a 100% independently owned family business,” Laura Bell wrote. “I will remain on the Board of Directors” and “will still have a role when it comes to making big decisions for this company.”