Ultimately, a craft culture treats people as the foundation of success, said Koch. People are always the answer. He recalls a period of stagnation that set in around 1996, when a board member with a big-company background observed that head count was too high and advised Koch to start cutting jobs.
"My response was that the people are not the problem. They are going to be the solution," he said. "They are going to find savings and efficiencies and unproductive spending. And we will get costs and revenues in balance."
Sure enough, employees collectively devised ways to tighten operations, proving that "human creativity and teamwork can trump financial resources," said Koch. For example, by fitting additional pallets of beer on trucks, filling excess shipment space with coasters and creating more efficient plans for sales calls. Growth came back slowly, but it did come back. Boston Beer's more rapid acceleration began in 2004, when revenues increased 22 percent.
— By Leigh Buchanan, special to CNBC.com