GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The co-founder of Founders Brewing Co. in Grand Rapids is stepping down from his CEO position.

Mike Stevens has announced he will be leaving his role as CEO at the end of January but will remain on the company’s board. 

Stevens started the Founders journey with Dave Engbers in 1997. The company had to recall their first batch of beer and almost went bankrupt in the early 2000’s. But then Founders’ popularity skyrocketed, and it is now one of the largest craft brewers in the country.

“It’s crazy to think … how quickly 25 years can go by. Dave and I, we started this really, more as a dream, as a couple of home brewers, that really took a hobby to the next level,” Stevens said.

Stevens said he will still be actively involved in the business as a board member, but decided it was time to bring someone with a new perspective into the growing business.

“Once you grow a business to a certain level, it behooves you to get some folks in, in a leadership level, that can take it to the next level,” he said. “I think it’s time to bring some fresh perspective in to the business and to step aside and allow that to happen.”

He said he thinks the craft beer industry will soon see a lot of innovation as a new generation becomes part of the beer enthusiast community.

“When we started the company, it was us, people of our age,” he said. “Now their children are in the taproom, and they certainly have a different perspective on what craft beer is and what they prefer to drink.”