Basin RevUp Helps Whitetooth Brewing Company Level Up
Whitetooth Brewing Company’s stunning mountain backdrop is the perfect place to enjoy one of their Belgian-inspired or West Coast-influenced craft beers. As the only brewery in Golden, BC, Whitetooth attracts ample local and tourist traffic that flows in from the Trans-Canada Highway. However, their rural location has also posed some logistical challenges for the burgeoning brewery — which is where Columbia Basin Trust’s Basin RevUp program came in.
From June 2020 to January 2021, brewery owner Kent Donaldson worked closely with the advanced business accelerator program that supports high-achieving companies poised for growth. RevUp helped Whitetooth create an actionable plan for scaling up the business through customized coaching in the broad categories of leadership, financial management and operational processes.
Brewing the Dream Team
To help address staffing challenges and build a committed team, RevUp coached Donaldson on investing in full-time employees so that he could pivot to running the business from a management position.
“You’re going to get part-time results with part-time people, so we made a conscious effort to start to land people in permanent salaried positions,” explains Donaldson. “First, we did a methodical breakdown of the nature of the company into components, which involved developing an organization chart and then defining role clarity for every staff member. This process really helped create the cohesive team we have now.”
When Donaldson began RevUp, he only had two people on salary: the tasting room manager and head brewer; the rest of the team was a part-time transient crew. Now there are five salaried full-time employees who work alongside a reliable team of part-time tasting room staff. RevUp’s mentorship emphasized that every business’ potential for success starts at the leadership level, which Donaldson took to heart.
“I learned every problem is a leadership problem — that really hit home for me and I conveyed that to all my staff in leadership positions,” says Donaldson. “I’m still quite involved with problem-solving, but I now have more of a bird’s-eye, ownership view that I didn’t before, which has helped me to withdraw from day-to-day tasks and delegate more. We have a great brewing, packaging, sales and tasting room team in place now, which took considerable effort to build.”
Software and Data Analysis Boost Brewery
Operating in isolation as the only brewery in the area, Donaldson immediately saw the value in the customized support RevUp offers.
“We exist in a silo here in Golden, without other breweries to share ideas with, but we managed to decrease freight costs through some RevUp networking,” says Donaldson. “One of the most helpful aspects of the program involved using our own data on the financial and workforce sides because it wasn’t a theoretical case study. Analyzing our data was like doing homework, which actually brought tangible value to the business.”
Another invaluable change came from switching up their brewery management software. RevUp coaches spent a lot of time trying to work with Whitetooth’s previous software, defining the brewery’s needs and discovering limitations. They found that it didn’t sync across their sales platform, which created challenges when it came to integration and evaluating sales margins.
“We’re harmonizing onto one platform now, which has simplified our finances — it’s made it more cohesive,” says Donaldson. “We get paid as soon as beer leaves the building and chasing people for payment has been virtually eliminated. I’m pretty enthusiastic about the change; it was definitely worth the investment.”
Because of RevUp’s guidance, Whitetooth switched to using the BC-based B2B sales program Ollie Order shortly after Donaldson completed the RevUp program and he says it’s been a total game changer when it comes to inventory management. They’re also about to plug into Ollie Ops, a streamlining software that will help manage the brewery’s day-to-day operations with automated reporting, simplified brew logging, task management, and inventory tracking. And the best part? Both software products operate under the same platform, which will make the integration as smooth as their craft beer.
Scaling Production During Shoulder Seasons
With new leadership tools, a reliable full-time crew, and streamlined operational software, Whitetooth Brewing Company is hopped up on what’s in store for their business’ bright future. They’re now shifting from a push model, where production pushes sales, to a model where sales pull from production; according to Donaldson, this will increase efficiency and stimulate more growth. The brewery is currently in the process of gearing up for Golden’s winter peak season, focusing on increasing their product distribution with the addition of some new canning equipment, which will also help compensate for their rural location in quieter shoulder seasons by expanding on their wholesale market.
“RevUp encouraged us to re-evaluate how to grow the company and the timeline associated with it,” shares Donaldson. “We’re in the middle of a scale up with more tanks, anticipating big growth this year because we bought three more double fermenters and a depalletizer for our canning line, which dramatically improved ergonomics and operations. These purchases will allow us to be more efficient and to crank out more beer — we’re already on track for a 25% increase in production versus 2021.”
Donaldson says he recommends the RevUp program for Basin businesses looking to level up.
“You get what you put into it; it was a lot of work, but it really made a difference in the way we operate,” says Donaldson. “I would encourage anybody who’s even remotely interested in the program to seriously consider enrolling. The bottom line is, RevUp was really invested in helping us become a better company, and I really appreciate everything they offered.”