John is the Executive Chairman and Partner of Founders Brewing Co and has over 20 years of experience in finance, commercial real estate and urban development. John worked as an investment adviser and securities trader in Chicago before returning to his hometown, Grand Rapids, intent on renewing the depth of community ties he found lacking in bigger cities. He carved out a pioneering role in the rehabilitation of Grand Rapids’ historic downtown, a journey that would eventually lead him to Founders.
As a co-founder in Locus Development, a real estate development and asset management firm, John earned a reputation for championing some of the most challenging projects in Grand Rapids, converting abandoned warehouses to thriving residential, retail and community living spaces, and in the process restoring the value of historic buildings and neighborhoods. One of these projects was Hopson Flats, an 80,000-square foot warehouse conversion designed as student housing, retail and commercial space. When friend and Founders CEO Mike Stevens approached John about needing more space for his brewery, their thoughts turned toward the unused lot across the street from Hopson Flats. In March 2007, John purchased shares from a significant shareholder and took over as Chairman of the company board, where he worked with the Founders team to structure the financing for the new Founders taproom and production facility at 235 Grandville Ave SW.
By November 2007, when Founders opened the doors to their Grandville Avenue facility, John was actively guiding the brewery’s expansion as Chairman while continuing to drive urban renewal in Grand Rapids. In January 2012, John transitioned to full-time operations and management responsibilities, and in March 2013 he was named President of Founders.
During John’s tenure with Founders, some of his key achievements have included planning and execution of the significant physical expansion of Founders’ brewhouse, production lines, cellar and taproom; the company’s international launch and strategic growth in over a dozen countries; and true to his roots, fostering community ties that have helped transform Grand Rapids into a vibrant destination for craft beer, culture and entrepreneurism. John’s active role in the greater Grand Rapids community has led to the brewery’s strategic partnership with internationally acclaimed ArtPrize. John also sits on several boards, including the Downtown Market, Grand Valley State University Foundation and Grand Rapids Whitewater.
John graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Economics and currently lives in Grand Rapids with his wife Deanna and three children; the family takes full advantage of Michigan’s great outdoors and also loves to travel the globe.