EDITOR Lee Atwater

RESEARCH TEAM Katie Davis Ashley Saint Ashley Tanner EDITORIAL TEAM David MacDonald






John Allaire Jamie Barrie

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Janice Buckler Denise Alison Jody Euloth Ceiledh Monk


T’is the season to reflect on the year that has passed, the great people that we have met and worked with and the amazing stories that we have been able to bring to our readers as we put the spotlight on businesses and the people that make it happen. It is also a time when many businesses are looking to close out their year, while planning strategies and setting goals for 2018. 2017 was an interesting year which saw many new challenges and changes to both business and government on both sides of the border. We, like any other business will learn from 2017 and look ahead to all the potential that the New Year offers. That being said, we would like to share with you our Top 17 stories of 2017 as we look back on the year that has passed and with all the excitement of a child opening their first gift on Christmas morning, look forward to the amazing entrepreneurs that we will get to work with and stories that we will tell as we move into the New Year. We hope you enjoy looking back at 2017, we would also like to take this time to wish you a Merry Christmas and all the best over the Holidays as you spend time with friends and family. We would like to thank all those involved with this year’s issues, the writers, research- ers, featured companies, advertisers and our amazing readers as we look forward to telling more stories about successful businesses and the people making it happen in the New Year.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and most of all a Happy and Successful New Year!


PO Box 350007 Halifax, Nova Scotia B3M 0G3 P: 613 699 6672 E:




New Glasgow is the third largest town in Nova Scotia with close to 9,100 resi- dents. It’s known as the commercial-ser-

vice centre of Northern Mainland Nova Scotia and is working to become known as the ‘Mobile Work Capital’ of Canada. The Town has several active business corridors and is located along the East River of Pictou County. Big and small busi- nesses alike call it home. Art, culture, entrepreneurship, business and industry all coexist here with great lifestyle amenities and close proximity to fantastic beaches. Diversity is not only the cultural reality here; it’s the rule in commerce. The Town of New Glasgow, along with the Pictou County Chamber of Commerce, offer a focused support for business that has been a lifeline for local entrepreneurs, a guiding light for industries, and a thing to be admired by many other communities. The dynamic nature of its economy is the result of careful consideration. Director of Community Economic Development, Geralyn MacDonald and Business Development Officer, Frank MacFarlane are what you would call best...

TAKE A LOOK at the Store Locator at Liv- You’ll notice two outlying GoogleMapspins.Oneof thesewandering franchises is well north of Living Lighting’s Eastern and Southern Ontario stronghold, in Timmons. The other is east, in Dart- mouth, Nova Scotia. Lauren Langlois is an American Lighting Association (ALA) certi- fied lighting associate and the Showroom Manager at Living Lighting and Progressive Cabinets at Station 12, Living Lighting’s only location outside of Ontario. Lauren spoke to Spotlight on Business Magazine early this spring – and please, forgive the idiom – to shed some light on Canada’s largest franchiser of residential lighting and its Maritime connection.







10 SPOTLIGHT ON INDUSTRY 12 STRATIGRO SMALL BUSINESS TIP FOR DECEMBER Get “it” Done 14 MESH MEDIA NETWORK Three keys in sales success goal setting for 2018 16 SPOTLIGHT ON BUSINESS 16 STEALTH DISTILLERIES 100% Hand-Crafted BC Vodka 22 MAUI BREWING Aloha in a Can 26 DIAMONDBACK TRUCK COVERS Heavy Duty Engineering Meets Lightweight Construction 32 DISTRICT BREWING CO. Hoisting the Prairie Lager 38 AMPERSAND DISTILLERY Ginning up the West 44 MONASHEE SPIRITS Rising to the Top 50 TOURSEC We work in One Industry- Entertainment 56 BLACK BUTTON DISTILLING Living Large in Small Batches 60 2 CROWS BREWING CO. As the Crow Flies 66 CASINO TAXI Halifax Landmark on the Go 72 DFS PHARMA Flexibility and data management can walk hand-in- hand S 78 CENTENNIAL AUTO Island Proud 82 ANNAPOLIS CIDER COMPANY Truly Something Different 90 OTTAWA GOODTIME CENTER Cruising to Success is Easier (and more fun) on two wheels 96 MAPLE LEAF HOMES Built for Life 102 STATION 12 LIVING LIGHTING & PROGRESSIVE CABINETS Light for Living You way- Whatever that might be 108 TOWN OF NEW GLASGOW Let New Glasgow Flourish

90 Life’s great when it’s all in the name. Non-drowsy. Extra spicy. Caf- feine-free. Wet Floor. It’s nice to know what you’re getting. So when I first

heard that I was going to be speaking with Jason Thoms, the Sales Manager at Ottawa Goodtime Centre, I knew I was in for either a good story or a few belly laughs. I got both. Jason is the son of Owners and General Managers Bryan and Zoi Thoms who in 1974 opened a modest motorcycle dealership out of the back of a garage in Canada’s capital. It wasn’t long until Ottawa Goodtime Centre outgrew its first set of ...

The Canadian Maritime prov- inces are associated with many flavourful delights. Seafood, potatoes, and the wines of the Annapolis Valley. But dig a little deeper and you’ll find some of the best apple orchards in the world, sprawling endlessly along- side the vineyards of Nova Scotia. Nestled on Main St. in the downtown district of Wolfville, Nova Scotia, a small, and evidently thirsty, universi- ty town whose population of




122 HOLISTIC HEALTH TIP FOR DECEMBER BY JANICE BUCKLER Ways to Detoxify- Part Three “The Gallbladder Flush”



A IDACA MEDIA understands that small and medium size enterprises and businesses are key to the successful growth of any economy and just as import- ant as big businesses to the global economy as a whole. By putting a spotlight on your business, organization or commu- nity with effective and interactive media and advertising we will help you capture the interest of business leaders and potential clients, giving you an opportunity to promote your brand and grow market share through mobile, online, print and social media support, helping your business connect and stay engaged with your customers.



The Mi’kmaq people called it Keespongwitk (the land’s end). The French explorer Samuel de Champlain called it Cap- Fourchu (the forked cape) when he first mapped its coast in 1604. The first permanent settlement there was a small French Acadian fishing village named Tebouque that recorded a population of 50 in 1750. (There is even evidence, a runic stone housed in the county museum and archives, which suggests the Vikings visited there in the 11 th century). Some historians argue that its name today comes from a request made by a small group of New England Planters granted land there in 1759.




January 9 th – 12 th , 2018

Various Locations and Venues – Las Vegas, NV, USA

CES is the world’s gathering place for all those who thrive on the business of consumer technologies. It has served as the proving ground for innovators and breakthrough technologies for 50 years — the global stage where next-generation innovations are introduced to the marketplace. CES, formerly The International Consumer Electronics Show (Inter- national CES®), showcases more than 3,900 exhibiting companies, including manufacturers, developers and suppliers of consumer technol- ogy hardware, content, technology delivery systems and more; a con- ference program with more than 300 conference sessions and more than 170K attendees from 150 countries. For more information of the event: Follow on Twitter: @CES Follow on Facebook: @CES

makers in the space come to Affiliate Summit. Show them what you’ve got and what they’re missing. ​For more information of the event: Follow on Twitter : @affiliatesummit Follow on Facebook: @AffiliateSummit




January 7 th – 9 th , 2018

Paris Las Vegas Hotel – Las Vegas, NV, USA

January 7 th – 9 th , 2018

Music City Center – Nashville, TN, USA

​More than 6,000 digital market- ers will gather in Las Vegas for this performance marketing industry’s premier global event where high-lev- el decision makers are comprised of online publishers, bloggers, media owners, traffic sources, advertisers, global brands, networks, technology firms, agencies, and other solution providers. They come from over 70 countries looking for new connections, innova- tive visions, cutting-edge technolo- gies, and to get a better understand- ing of the ways in which the best businesses are leveraging them to grow and improve their bottom line. There is no substitute for being here, demonstrating your solutions and building face-to- face relationships. The top companies and key decision

​The engagement factor is the most critical piece of connecting with your audience. But we’ve entered the new school of engagement — one where you must navigate around digital distractions and satisfy increased attendee expectations at every turn. At Convening Leaders, you’ll learn how to electrify your experience. And what better place to bring that super- charged sound and feeling than Music City. Plug in and join more than 4,500 of your colleagues this January in Nashville. ​For more information of the event: Follow on Twitter: @pcmahq Follow on Facebook: @PCMAHQ


January 10 th – 12 th , 2018

Bacara Resort – Santa Barbara,




Get unparalleled insight into the latest ideas, trends and technologies that are shaping the marketing and advertising world.

The Innovation Summit brings together corporate executives and leading venture capitalists to help them see what’s next, stay ahead of disruptive threats, and forge new relationships that will increase their effectiveness as corporate and industry leaders. From voice and chat interfaces to AI replacing investment managers and doctors to the new revenue models enabled by the Industrial Internet of Things, the Innovation Summit marries CB Insights’ emerging trend research with the thinking of the world’s smartest minds – leading VCs, economists, researchers and corporate strategists. For more information of the event: h t t p: //even t s . c b i n s i gh t s . com/ corp-innovation- 2017 Follow on Twitter: @CBinsights Follow on Facebook: @cbinsights

Connect with the biggest players in the industry from top brands, agencies, publishers, media companies & technology providers.

Come away with the essential knowledge, inspiration and connections you need for the year ahead.

For more information of the event: Follow on Twitter: @adexchanger Follow on Facebook: @ADExchanger


January 26 th , 2018

Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center – Washington, DC, USA

Wonder Women Tech’s mission is to highlight, celebrate and educate women and the under- represented in STEAM indus- tries. We create conferences, events and workshops where we bring together changemak- ers, pioneers, innovators, and high-level speakers and attend- ees to explore ideas, discussions, and solutions for women and the underrepresented to succeed and thrive. For more information of the event: Follow on Twitter: @wonderwomentech Follow on Facebook: @WonderWomenTech


January 17 th – 18 th , 2018

Grand Hyatt New York – New York, NY, USA

Hear the leaders of the advertising and marketing technology ecosys- tem reveal new visions for 2018 and beyond.



By Jamie Barrie E nvironment Minister, Catherine McKenna informed provinces this week she expects all provinces to provide details of their carbon pricing plans no later than September 1, 2018. McKenna also stated that any province that does not provide a detailed plan by this timeline will have the Liberal Government’s federal program imposed upon it starting January 1, 2019. The current federal government’s plan sees a proposed carbon price, or tax as some say at $20 per tonne in 2019, rather than the originally planned $10 per tonne in 2018. At this new rate, the added cost to the average Canadian household is expected to range from a low of $241 a year to as high as $448.

By Jamie Barrie S tatistics Canada data shows that wholesale sales increased 1.5 percent to $63 billion in October, led by the machin- ery, equipment and supplies subsector, which showed a promising recovery from a 1.1 percent drop in September. Data shows that gains were made in six of seven subsectors, while wholesale sales in volume terms gained 1.2 percent, with the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector reported the largest increase in dollar terms of 5.2 percent or $12.7 billion.

The only subsector to not show a gain was the motor vehicle and parts subsector which fell 2.3 percent with $11.8 billion in sales.



By Jamie Barrie I n a recent company announcement, the movie theater subscription service MoviePass advised that it has surpassed one million paid subscribers, which is a major milestone for the company. This is welcomed news for MoviePass, showing that the company’s strategy to change to a $9.95 per month pricing model back in August has paid off with the company reaching one million subscribers in less time than other services like; Spotify, Hulu, and Netflix.

This should make for an interesting year for movie goers as competition for your entertainment dollar increases in 2018.



By Denise Alison E ver feel like there’s never enough time in the day to get everything done? Many of you are either one-person shows or have a very small team. This means that you are responsible for creating things and working in the business, but you are also responsible for working on the business, getting new customers, marketing,



Plan out a time to check and respond to e-mail

and social media.

This month has been crazy for us so far. We travelled for 2 weeks in a row to deliver workshops and then spent this week with follow-up calls with workshop participants. Don’t get me wrong, I love being in a room full of entrepreneurs delivering a workshop, and I also love hearing about their business in more detail, but the weeks have felt packed and there has been a lot of jumping around. This means I haven’t had the time needed to focus on working on projects and creating content. While I havebeendoingwork that is important tomybusiness, I haven’t been very productive with my core business activi- ties for the past 3 weeks. This is because of the scheduling – I haven’t been giving myself the time to focus on these things for long enough. Our calls have been at any time of the day. When you have so much on your plate, it’s important that you budget your time so that you can get the important things done. If you just wing it day by day, you will feel overwhelmed and as if there is never enough time!  The best strategy is to batch your time so that you can focus on one thing at a time, and get it done right! Here are my strategies for getting it all done. (Of course, all of our businesses are different, so the way you focus your time might be a bit different than mine). Block off your mornings Use morning for creative, productive time. Relax knowing that you will have this time to focus on the important things. If you are an artist, use this time to create pieces, if you provide training, use this time to create your courses, if you are a writer, use this time to write, and so on. The important thing is to focus on one thing at a time, and generally, you should focus on one thing a day. Giving yourself the space to accomplish this is so important. The creative process is something that can’t be rushed and takes time to get right. Give yourself the time to get into the zone.  In my case, this means I am usually working on a project for a client, or creating content.  Turn your phone to silent and do not check e-mails or social media during this time. Protect this time, and as much as possible do not schedule meetings or other activities during this time. Afternoons Now that you’ve spent all morning creating and being pro- ductive, it’s time to get other business activities done. Schedule your meetings or calls in the afternoon. If you need to run errands, do them in the afternoon. If you have other tasks to accomplish, such as accounting, website main- tenance, posting to social media etc, when should you do them? You got it: in the afternoon. It’s all about planning.

I could spend my entire day responding to e-mails and not actually accomplish anything all day.

We get an e-mail and we feel as if it’s urgent that we respond to it. To limit this distraction turn off the notifi- cation on your screen and don’t check your inbox every 5 minutes. Before you refuse, realize that in most cases, you do not need to send an instant reply. As long as you get back to the sender within a day it should be adequate. Check your e-mail after Hammer Time and again towards the end of your work day.   Set your phone to silent Again, there are so many distractions that come with a smartphone. Texts, facebook notifications, tweets, messages, game notifications, oh and calls! It is very rare that a client or potential client calls me out of the blue. The majority set up a specific time if they want to talk by phone. This means that I don’t need to feel guilty about turning my phone to silent for a couple of hours. The benefits of blocking out all the noise outweigh the off chance that someone calls. If by chance someone important does call – that’s what voicemail is for. Plan in advance Plan your week in advance. It’s so much easier to know where to focus your time if you know what you are trying to accomplish. At the beginning of every week take a look at the big picture and see what needs to be accomplished. Then you can make a plan of action for the week. At the end of every day I like to make a list of what I need to accomplish the following day, that way when I wake up, I know where to focus. I am also a big believer in a content calendar for blogs and social media. Having fixed dates on these things makes you use your time wisely and help you stick to deadlines. While multitasking might make us feel as if we are getting lots done, constantly changing our focus makes us a lot less productive. Of course, all of your days won’t look like this. Also, know that you won’t be perfect. No one is, but having the schedule will keep you accountable. Knowing that you have the time to get things done will relieve the pressure and let you focus on the task at hand. The important thing is to focus on one thing at a time and get the most important things done. Plan your time to make sure you make the most of it!

Looking forward to sharing more with you in 2018!



Jody Euloth is the CEO of The Mesh Media Network and Founder of The Dynamic Soul of Selling. She helps entrepreneurs, business and sales professionals and creative visionaries get over their fear of selling so they can generate more revenue and make a bigger impact in business.



By Jody Euloth T his is the time of year that people spend a lot of time reflecting. Looking back over the past year acknowledging accomplishments, analyzing unforeseen obstacles and reviewing the list of goals they had set out to achieve. It’s also that time to reset your mind with positive intentions and plan new goals for the upcoming year. This planning spans all areas of life, and is particularly important for any sales professional or entrepreneur who have set targets they need or want to achieve to be successful in business. You can’t set new goals and plan your sales approach without first forecasting your sales. Forecasting is the backbone to your business plan. It is a crucial part of the financial planning of the business, which uses past and current sales statistics to intelligently predict future performance. With a clear and accurate sales forecast in hand, you are able to make a plan for success. These goals will keep you on course, and serve as a reminder to continue doing what is necessary for successful achievement, regardless of whether or not you like the necessary activities. Three keys strategies to setting sales goals are: BE SPECIFIC – It isn’t useful to just say you want more sales. You must know your numbers of what you sold last year and write down the clear number you’d like to increase those sales by. Whether it’s an increase in revenue dollars or new clients, your goals should be specific and measurable. SET REALISTIC AND ACHIEVABLE GOALS– There is nothing more discouraging to sales professionals than having targets that are unattainable. It is deflating and seriously affects performance. To optimize sales performance, it is necessary to feel success even in the small wins. This motivation and sense of achievement goes a long way with the sales psyche. Examine what your sales were last year, forecast what they can be this year and plan steps that are achievable on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis. SET DEADLINES – Plan your annual sales targets and then work backwards. Without the proper planning, you will most certainly feel the crunch in the fourth quarter. Know what you want to achieve for the year, then map out your balanced quarterly plan. Within the quarterly plan, work out activities that must be done both daily and weekly to keep yourself on track. This planning in the beginning will avoid any unnec- essary stress later in the year. Regular reminders of your goals and tracking of your progress are necessary activities. You will be able to recognize if you are falling behind in the first quarter, giving you sufficient time to reset your plan to ensure you will meet your goals by year end. We can never stress it enough: know your numbers, know your numbers, know your number and be specific, realistic and dynamic. Wishing you all the best over the holiday season and to great sales success for 2018. For more, sales tips and strategies, sign up for ‘The Dynamic Soul of Selling’ Newsletter at www.meshme- of-selling/ for a free 15-minute sales consultation to determine if you would benefit from ‘The Dynamic Soul of Selling 90-minute Strategy Session’ email . Once you have a clear understanding of your forecast, the sales success plan starts with clear goal setting.



John Pocekovic is a measured man. He says it comes from his years as a banker. Risk management is after all the exercise when you have a client’s business plan in one hand and the bank’s money in the other. For John, it’s always been a numbers game – but not all numbers are created equal. “The first place to start with any business plan is to identify the opportunity,” he explained. “It doesn’t matter what you make or how much of it you make, you have to know if there are customers for your product or service. In

this situation, for example, the starting point is not the distillery or the product, it’s the market place. What is the consumption in the local market where we’re going to operate? We have a licensing restriction that only allows us to operate in BC, therefore our market is restricted to BC. So the question that naturally comes out of that is how much vodka is consumed by all vodka consumers in British Columbia. Then there’s determining the age range of your customers, your potential client group, which is from 19 to 55 or 65, say. Then you have to determine how much vodka the average person from your client group drinks. Once you have that, you’ve started to figure out the potential market and that allows you to look realistically at limitations when you’re putting up a facility.” John is the President of Stealth Distillery in North Vancouver, British Columbia. The facility is on Orwell Street and the potential market for his high quality hand-crafted spirits was well-established before opening day. John wouldn’t have had it any other way. He’s a measured man.



By David MacDonald J ohn, how did you go about market research in such a young industry? JP: I think we had more of an advantage there than most people entering into this field. You’re right; this is a very young industry. So there isn’t a whole bunch of people running around that have expertise in distilling or brewing or for that matter even making a bottle of wine – although the vineyards are ahead of the curve in BC. The brewers are ahead of the distillers and the distillers are just following in their footsteps, making their way into the market place. The vintners have done really well; the brewers have done really well; there is no reason not to think the spirit manufacturers

are not going to do well. But there isn’t a pool of suppliers or local knowledge when you’re just starting off. So for us, the advantage was that before the attractive licencing was in place, we were actually contracting our product out. In other words, someone would make our product for us and someone would bottle it and get all the component parts and assemble it in Chicago. We’d import it into BC and then sell it to our clients ourselves and those clients would be in the restaurant, bar, or club scene – or retail stores. Having done that for a few years from 2006 to 2012, we started learning a little bit about production; we learned a little bit about distribution; we learned a little bit about client preferences and establishing a reputation and credi- bility. Unfortunately we didn’t make a lot of money because



JP: With all craft distilleries in Canada, there’s a limit to pro- duction – which gives you a favourable pricing outside of a controlled regulatory environment. In other words, if I were to sell through a government distribution I would get very little money. In fact, I’d be losing money on every case that I make. If you want the real numbers, it’s 85 percent of the retail price. The distribution agency or government-owned liquor stores make 85 percent or 85 cents out of every dollar spent. The producer gets 15 percent or 15 cents out of every dollar. Like I said before, that’s not a lot of money. I’ve been there. “So for us, the advantage was that before the attractive licencing was in place, we were actually contracting our product out.” As craft distillers, if we sell through a privately-owned liquor store, we don’t have that restriction. We can provide a margin to the retailers and then we keep the rest to cover our higher costs: excise and sales taxes, investments and capital, rent, and labour. It’s much more expensive to produce small batch products than if you were to contract it out – in a very large commercial contract – to a bottling facility. It boils down to know how much vodka is there being sold, how much being consumed. Then, we match it up with how much can we make. For us, for example, for our business, the relationship between the two is this: there is roughly two-hundred million dollars in vodka sold in BC every year. Our licence capacity is around a million dollars. In other words, optimally operating and selling everything we make, at the very most what we’re after is half of one percent of the total market share. That’s not a big number. If, for example, you go through this exercise and you find out that you have to capture 20 to 30 percent of the market share to actually make money, then I would question whether that was a rational move. John, I think it’s time for the big introduction. Can you please tell the readers about your craft product? JP: We don’t make just one product, we make two: one from corn, one from wheat. Our corn product has a slight sweet- ness to it, so it’s a signature craft product. The reason we’re making that is because we identified a need in the market place for something different than the taste of the recog- nizable brands already on the shelf. It was a differentiation issue that we felt was important to our success. The corn vodka gives us a signature product. The second product, the wheat vodka, is a more neutral product. It appeals to a broader range of palates. It gives us balance and it’s exactly the same process and exactly the same quality.

we were in the 15 percent world.

It’s really hard to make any money on 15 percent of your retail sales, so we did well on the production side, the retail side, and we learned how to develop relationships in the industry, but the business model didn’t give us enough of a margin. It was not going to go anywhere until regulations changed in British Columbia just a couple years ago and it was possible then to have a licence to make your own product. For us, that change was most welcome. It allowed us to leverage the experience we had in contracting - our contract modelling, if you will – into making our own product and basically servicing and assisting our clients that we had a relationship with already. That’s very different than someone starting out. How have you thrived within such a complex regulatory environment?

The more neutral a product is, the easier it is to mix. This



gives it more appeal in the market place and keeps people coming back for more. We’re a small craft distillery; we’re not looking for hundreds of thousands of people to buy our product. We’re looking for a small, but loyal, portion of the market place. I want to sell everything I produce, so there has to be a uniqueness to the product that sets us apart. There can’t be anything boring about what you distill because the clientele is ready to try something that’s at least a little bit different, something new, something they haven’t been drinking for the last five, 10, 30, or even 50 years. It’s a niche market out there; that’s the nature of the craft distilling market place. “As craft distillers, if we sell through a privately-owned liquor store, we don’t have that restriction.” So much of it is about relationships. We don’t do a lot of advertising because, again, we don’t need tens or hundreds of thousands of customers. It’s mostly relationship-driven. For example, say we sell to a restaurant. The restaurant then sells our product to ten different clients or customers and out of those ten, two of them really like what they’re trying and they go on to buy a couple bottles. Or consider someone who goes to a privately-owned liquor store and they’re drawn to our product because they think it’s a good fit for their craft Caesar mix and they basically expose it to their clientele. They’re likely going to introduce it to at least 100 customers and out of those customers, 20 will buy a bottle. So you see, it’s all about relationships. In other words, I’m not selling to anyone directly but someone else is whether it is a person in a store, a person in a restaurant, a bar, or a pub. They’re really an agent of my brand. To stay at the sales level that we want to be in, we need those many sales agents who are embracing the brand. It’s not just a matter of developing those relationships, you have to grow them – you have to appreciate them.

For example, our distillery is waste free and environmen- tally sustainable. A key relationship in this respect for us is with Jerry a third-generation dairy farmer in nearby Delta that uses our spent mash to make milk, or to produce bio fuel that can be used on site by his farm or our distillery as well as create a secondary bi-product, an odorless fertilizer. When those new sales agents and those new customers embrace your brand, I bet they’re wondering the same thing that I am: Where did the name come from? JP: Not my idea. I was actually concerned it would have negative militaristic overtures while others in and outside of our family thought it was “cool” – whatever that is. Looking at a dictionary definition, among other things ‘Stealth’ means “Artfully sly” and “under the radar” which is precisely our business model.  Not wanting to settle a difference of opinion arbitrarily, I decided on a course of action that we follow without fail to settle any significant branding disputes: we ask our pro- spective customers.  The test we used for the name is three clip boards with five top brand name picks. These picks are made by family and associates and they would fight to the death for their pick. These three clip boards were placed in the front of three separate popular liquor stores at 5pm on a Friday. We wanted 50 vodka drinkers to answer the following question: If you were to decide on trying a new vodka brand on name alone from this list what name would you choose? All thee clip boards tracked identical prospective client responses and ‘Stealth’ won by an overwhelming majority. That’s a true story and the process has never failed us. The customer is always right!



What ever brand name is chosen, however, trade mark pro- tection is crucial. If someone else has a legitimate earlier trade mark registration it could be the end for any business right there.  Stealth Vodka is trade mark protected in Canada, the US and the Benelux countries in the EU, before a single bottle was produced. 

In the US, I faced a formidable trade mark challenge from an infamous vexatious challenger, Leo Stoller.

In a nutshell, Leo had a specific trademark for a specific product that he used to frivolously challenge all trade marks with the word “Stealth”, everywhere. “We opted to get formal training in the best possible place in North America and that is Moonshine University in Louisville.” That is how I met Lance Johnson, a well-known and highly regarded trade mark lawyer in Washington, DC. Lance was impressed with my public defence filings with the TTB and reached out to me. That led to an introduction to his group of some 50 trade mark lawyers across the US. Many of us in this circle pooled together to fight Leo. After several years of brutal contests with Leo, the TTB in an astounding landmark move seized all of Leo’s trade mark registrations and awarded them to the plaintiffs, that is Lance’s group, our group. They fined Leo and pressed for jail time in the interest of the public good in the United States. It was a profound win that our group used to voluntarily de-regis- ter all of Leo’;s trade marks so that all other existing regis- trations, including mine, have precedent and none of Leo’s could ever be used maliciously again, which is something I am very proud of having achieved collaboratively with other like-minded leaders in their field.  John I’m curious: Who is the “we” in Stealth Distillery? JP: That would be Randy Poulin as well as other family members and friends that often help out. Randy is the Head Master Distiller here. I met Randy at a reception after my son proposed to my now daughter-in- law. Randy was my daughter’s date – so it was Nicole that brought him into our lives. It was purely chance. He was a mechanical engineer, just in university at the time, and we had no idea we’d ever be working together two years later. I was in the field already, the opportunity presented itself, and Randy was ready for a new challenge. The equipment really appealed to the mechanical engineer in him – he graduated from UBC. Randy also previously worked for some well-known craft breweries in BC, so his technical acumen is honed by a production environment. I’ve learned a few things through my research about the equipment you have at the distillery, John. Care to tell

the readers about what you’re operating with at Stealth Distillery? JP: There are only three people who know how to make distilling equipment in the world. Two are in Germany, one is in the US. You can find all sorts of used equipment on eBay from India or China but that equipment doesn’t have a proven track record. To get a really useful piece of equip- ment, you need someone who has been doing this for a very long time to share their expertise with you. Because there are only three manufacturers in that category who are world class, your choice is made a little easier. Our supplier is Vendome and they’re a fourth generation, privately-owned company in Louisville, Kentucky, which is the centre of the world for spirits. They take clients who are referred by an existing client. Then you put your money down and you wait for two years for your equipment to arrive at your front doorstep. The equipment is a minimum of a half of a million dollars – and up to one million dollars – for a craft distillery operation. It doesn’t come pre-assembled and every piece of equipment is unique and every piece of equipment has capacity. You have to balance all these factors out and it starts with what you’re making, how much you’re making, and then you have to design your equip-



ment line backwards. Well, no one does it that way, but we did. That’s because we only make one product: vodka.

in their field are doing at a world class level – and then you can make your choices from there. If you’re my son and I’m the only one who teaches you to drive, you’re just going to pick up all my bad habits. A formal scenario like Moon- shine University gives you all the options, not just a set of bad habits. Where you want to go and how you want to get there is up to you in the end – you build your own road map. For Randy and me, this was the right choice. It’s been instrumental in our success. I went first. Randy went almost a year later. That was also the right choice. The distillery was in one place when I went first and we were in a different place when Randy went. When he went, he was testing some assumptions and ideas he had on his own, independently. That was a very worthwhile experience. What are the holidays looking like for Stealth, John? JP: The busy holiday season is usually a peak for us. We’re just making sure that everything is good to go while Randy is away in Hawaii on his first wedding anniversary. I hope people in BC consider our products for their cel- ebrations. Our products are uniquely distilled three times and they’re clean of the impurities that turn so many people away from spirits. Tiny elements make such a big impact on any spirit. Minute, extraneous factors can really influence your bottom line as a distillery. We don’t sell products that will harm our reputation. We’d sooner start over.

If you only make one product, you can optimize every piece of equipment to optimize your process so that it’s as good as it can be done by anyone, anywhere. That’s a tough call to make on the investment side. The banker in me would tell you that’s risky because if it doesn’t work out, you’re done. You need the setup that allows you produce at a profitable level. There’s no such thing as scaling up. The moment you turn on the equipment, you’ve scaled-up – that’s it. That’s not your only connection to Louisville, is it? I understand that you and Randy were both students in The Gateway to the South. We opted to get formal training in the best possible place in North America and that is Moonshine University in Lou- isville. There’s no other place I know of at that level. They have the exact same equipment we have at our distillery, Vendome, and they have a classroom and they invite pre- senters, some of whom have doctorates in their fields. Some of them have a lifetime of experience and most of them come from generational experience. These experts present in a small intimate group setting or one-on- one for a half hour, about the most miniscule things you could imagine and this goes on for 12 hours a day for seven days. The advantage is that you don’t just get to learn the pref- erences of one person but what the leading professionals

For more about the Stealth Distilleries venture please visit .





No one company is an island, to paraphrase the John Donne classic poem. But in Hawaii, one brewery is making a splash across the sun-swept island state. The Maui Brewing Company started out as a small, seven-barrel brew pub in 2005, making their own island blends of beer and serving them to the customers that walked through their door. Their focus was on brewing beer that represented the local agriculture. For example, their flavours included citrus, mango, pineapple and coconut, giving their pub patrons a true taste of the islands. In 2005, the brewpub produced 320 barrels of beer. Fast-forward to 2017 and the Maui Brewing Company is on their second production/distribution facility location (outgrowing their first one) and is pumping out about 50,000 barrels of their unique beers annually. Spotlight on Business spoke with Garrett Marrero, co-owner and founder of the Maui Brewing Company, about their own authentic approach to brewing beer in such a unique location.

By John Allaire I n 2007 we opened up our first production facility where we started canning, and doing retail beer. That was beer-to- go as well as wholesale retailing and distribu- tion.” Marrero is quick to point out that they were early adopters of “craft in cans” , being one of only 10 craft brew- eries in the US at the time that was producing and selling their products in cans. It’s a common misconception that bottles are the more environmentally friendly vessel. It may have once been the case, but the metal from the local- ly-produced cans is 100% recyclable, unlike glass, which is often broken up and used in other products at a lesser recy- clable rate. It’s all about a smaller carbon footprint. Local production means a shorter shipping profile. CO2 recovery systems are on the horizon as well. This will help the com- pany’s bottom line, as recovery of 100% of their CO2 emis- sions allows their production facility to convert waste back into their own production process, eventually eliminating the need to buy from external sources. This all points to Maui’s commitment to sustainability. And not just within the products they produce. Their focus is on the big picture. They are working toward being “grid inde- pendent” in the near future. “You know the Jack Johnson song “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle?”? That’s really our mantra here. Especially on an island with limited resources, limited access to recycling and disposal, etc. We want to consume as little as possible and be as efficient as possible. Then, layer on top of that, renewable energy and cutting water use, etc. As we’ve grown as a company, we have developed

a deeper and deeper commitment to sustainability.”

Maui Brewing Company has hit the ground running in the mainland as well. They are currently distributing to 23 states within the US, and 10 countries around the world. And they are looking to pass ‘Aloha’ even further. “We have really put Hawaii on the map when it comes to craft beer,” Marrero proudly asserts. “We are primarily focused on the West Coast in the US. The closer we are to home, the better. We still sell about 75% of our beer in Hawaii. So our focus is really still our home market.” However, their sights do wander over to the global market on occasion. Currently they are sending quantities to Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Australia, a few countries in South America, (boasting impressive sales numbers from Chile, in particular) , and they are considering distributing to China. This is more of a function of bringing their beer to countries and states where Hawaii tourists can enjoy their product once returning from vacation, and less a search for new primary markets. Above all, distribution plans outside of Hawaii have to make economic sense before the Maui products leave the plant. Moreover, dollars and cents occupy merely one segment of their philosophy regarding distribution to communities and cultures outside of their island home. “When we do venture out to the other states and countries, it’s based on, ‘do they have a good craft beer scene?’, and do we have a kinship with the culture or the community, whether it be through



craft beer or with Hawaii?’. We really do like to shine the light on the really cool things that are happening in Hawaii in both the food and beverage scenes.” Their restaurants also play a role as a yardstick for measuring the popularity and viability of their brews. Their original pub in Lahaina, Maui is still a going concern; they have recently opened a new restaurant inWaikiki, Oahu. Their plans to open two further locations, a second one on Maui at the brewery and another on Oahu, are in full swing. Marrero explains that they get just as psyched over opening restaurants as they do with producing their beverages for distribution. “We’re excited to grow both on the beverage production side, but also on the restaurant and food side as well. It’s nice to partner the beer with a service capability. As fans of craft beer, we want to have the opportunity to talk to them directly. Having the restaurants allows us to do just that.” “We’ve really put Hawaii on the map when it comes to craft beer.” So which came first? There is a popular trend amongst craft brewers and distillers to cross-pollinate and open restaurants that feature their products. Just as common, it seems, are the pubs that throw some tanks in the basement and start brewing their own concoctions to sell up in their restaurants. But Marrero states without hesitation that his goal has always been to brew good, unique beer. “Yeah, we wanted to brew beer. In Hawaii at the time, the term ‘craft beer’ didn’t even exist until we started using it. Back then there was ‘big beer’, ‘micro beer’ and ‘local beer.’. And the local beer was being brewed in the mainland. So it was that flaw that we sought to expose and create an authen- tic local brand.” Realizing their strengths and partnering in areas where experience may be lacking was important for the company to move into the direct-serving industry. “By default, because of our success, the restaurants made sense for us. We have some great partners that operate our restaurants. We’re really proud of our entire team, both on the restaurant and the brewing sides.” For Maui Brewing Company, success means having the con- fidence in their unique beers to share a sense of community with other producers. They are anything but insular when it comes to their customer experience. “We usually have a few guest beers on tap in our restaurant. Frankly, they don’t move as quickly, typically, because visitors and resi- dents alike, when they have an opportunity to drink a cold, new local beer, that’s usually where they gravitate. Espe- cially visitors, when they’re coming from, say Colorado or California, they’ll try beers that they can’t get back home.” And Marrero will proudly stack his beer up alongside some of the better- known mainland beers. In fact, he encourages visitors to taste-test the difference.

“When we have those guest beers on tap, it becomes a symbol of quality for us because they may know that beer



really well from back home. Then when they taste it up against our beer of the same category, they’ll realize that we make some pretty damn good beer!” Peers and awarding bodies tend to agree. The family business (Marrero’s wife, Melanie Oxley, is a co-found- er) took top honours recently as the 2017 National Small Business Person(s) of the Year. The award from the U.S. Small Business Administration recognized the husband-and- wife team for transforming their business into the largest craft beer company in Hawaii. After being informed of the nom- ination, Marrero hopped on an airplane and represented Hawaii at the awards in Washington D.C. He described the adventure, and the eventual win, as a “humbling and amazing experience.”. While national awards and recognition within the industry are satisfying, Maui Brewing Company makes sure that the home fires keep burning. They have a “Draft Van” — basically a fun custom party wagon full of kegs and externally-mounted taps — that allows them to keep a strong remote-location commu- nity presence. “I custom-built the Draft Van myself! It’s always fun to take a drill to your new Mercedes van!” laughs Marrero. The van has 10 taps and a 20-keg capacity, which is ideal for corporate and community events, including fundraisers for the Cancer Foundation and the Boys and Girls Club. It enables them tomaintain quality beer service at events out in the com- munity, with minimal set-up and break-down time, ensuring that their philanthropic endeavours are sustainable. With all the irons in the fire, Marrero speaks with enthusi- asm about where the company began and where he sees it going down the road. “We started with around 30 people in 2005, and we have just over 400 employees today.” And despite winning awards, the brewing company is deter- mined to make ‘great’ even better. “As we’ve grown as a company, we have developed a deeper and deeper commitment to sustainability.” “We don’t believe in resting on our laurels. We believe that a gold-medal beer can be even better.” Their plan includes continuing on with their success in the food services industry as well. By the end of 2018, all four of their restaurants will be in full operation. And as if beer and food isn’t enough, their future plans include adding a distillery element to their pro- duction portfolio. “We are going to start making spirits, driven by local agriculture, along with making natural-crafted sodas.” Askediftheyareevertemptedtoopenupabusinessinthemainland, Marrero says it isn’t something they ever really talk about. “We’re a company based in Hawaii. We love the other markets we’re in and we love tospread ‘Aloha’, if youwill. But our focus isour home.”With such a beautiful locale, it’s little wonder they aren’t enticed to stray. Make a trip to one of the Maui Brewing Company’s pubs on your next trip toHawaii andenjoy their locally-produced tastes! Aloha!



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