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Monday, October 19, 2020

With Financial Assistance from Evergreen, Phoenix Coffee Converts to Employee-Owned Cooperative

Posted By on Mon, Oct 19, 2020 at 5:11 PM

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Phoenix Coffee, a Cleveland-based company that employs 37 people across five Northeast Ohio coffee shops and one wholesale roastery, announced that it is transitioning to a worker-owned cooperative.



The wheels were set in motion a few years thanks to former minority partners Shane Hinde and Christopher Feran, both of whom remain as co-general managers of the newly formed worker cooperative.

The conversion to employee-ownership was financed by the Fund for Employee Ownership of the Evergreen Cooperatives, a Cleveland nonprofit dedicated to preserving jobs and revitalizing neighborhoods through collective ownership.

“Banks were skeptical about loaning to hospitality companies like restaurants or coffee shops – and that was before COVID-19,” explains Feran. “This new partnership with Evergreen positions us to not just survive the pandemic but to also grow and share profits with our employees, who are now also owners.”

Under the new cooperative structure, Phoenix’s existing and future employees will have a voice in operating policy, not to mention an ownership stake in the company, bestowing such rights as profit-sharing and representation on the board. This is a huge step toward creating a more democratic workplace while providing better growth opportunities for those in the regional coffee company.

In doing so, Phoenix becomes the first coffee company in Ohio to be structured as a worker cooperative.

This move is just the latest in a long line of sustainability and fairness measures advanced over the years by Hinde and Feran, including the switch to sustainably sourced coffee beans, providing employee healthcare benefits and significantly reducing waste.

“Our idea isn’t a radical one,” the managers said in a statement. “We want to create safe, sustainable, liveable middle-class jobs. We want to be part of our communities and contribute to those communities not only through our company’s presence but by being members: buying homes, starting families and living our values.”

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