Sam Adams’ billionaire founder and his executives still fly coach, here’s why

Jim Koch and the Boston Beer Company

Boston Beer Company founder Jim Koch could buy a jet or fly first class all the time. Since founding his beer company in 1984, the man behind Samuel Adams Boston Lager has become a bonafide billionaire.

Despite his massive wealth and control over 1% of the entire beer industry in the US, he has remained grounded in his spending habits.

Koch insists money has never been his driving factor and he actually avoids big displays of wealth.

In his memoir “Quench Your Own Thirst” he explains his spending habits.

You can usually find Koch in the same denim and khakis and he drives a Ford Hybrid.

Most telling is the fact that he still flies coach and makes his executives follow that same practice.

“On those long trips to Munich [for beer-ingredient research], the upgrade from coach to first class is an extra $5,000,” he writes. “I can’t make the math work — the average person at Boston Beer makes $55,000 a year. How can I justify paying over a month’s salary for a first-class ticket? Is having me get a little more legroom and a better meal really more valuable to the company than what the average person contributes every month? I’ve never believed that.”

Koch says as his company’s profile continued to grow he needed to keep his ego in check and focus on the main perspective of growing his business and serving his employees.

As the company’s founder explains, “every small thing that leaders do sets the tone and increases team members’ commitment to the common cause.”

“People are always sensitive to hypocrisy or compromises from managers, and the behavior of senior leaders is scrutinized, magnified, and commented on by everyone.”

Koch has some harsh works for people who are impressed by massive displays of wealth. He calls them “idiots” and says they are not worth dealing with.

“I also don’t want everyone else to think that vanity and egotism are values our company encourages,” he writes.