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Bill Coleman, president and co-owner, Cameron’s Brewing Company

Bill Coleman, president and co-owner, Cameron’s Brewing Company

Published by Leonardo Calcagno

Presented x Mondial de la Bière [June 14-18, 2017 – Montréal]

Who are you: 

Bill Coleman, president and co-owner, Cameron’s Brewing Company

In which city are you located? 

Oakville, Ontario

A word to define what kind of worker you are: 

 I am a multi-tasker, fast-talking and thrive on social interaction and people’s energy. I am detailed oriented, a problem solver and a lateral thinker.

What tools are essential to your life (app, software, etc..): 

I cannot live without my smartphone and a cold beer!

What does your office space look like? 

I work from home office in Toronto, my car, the occasional restaurant or bar who serve my beer, and a whatever space are available when I am at the brewery in Oakville. I would rather hold meetings surrounded by fermenters or oak barrels than in a stuffy boardroom.

How large is the brewery?

 We have approximately 50 employees.  We have three year-round beers Cameron’s Cosmic Cream Ale, Cameron’s Ambear Red Ale and Cameron’s Captain’s Log Lager along with Seasonal beers and our oak aged series.  We operate in 20,000 square feet brewery.  We have approximately 50 full and part time employees.  

The reason you started brewing?   

Before I started drinking, I collected beer bottles, cans, and advertising.  I built a wall of beer in my bedroom as a kid so I could admire their various shapes and sizes.  Running a beer company was my dream. But after graduating from Ivey Business School at the University of Western Ontario I started my career as a sales and marketing professional, not a beer king. I spent years at Nestlé and Molson (where I worked on the iconic “I Am Canadian” campaign), then I entered high tech—and that’s when fate returned. While traveling the world selling 3D software, I noticed craft beer was becoming a global phenomenon. I jump-started my dream by acquiring Cameron’s Brewing. 

What was the inspiration behind your brewery?  

Our brewery was started in 1997 as a mere hobby. It has turned into an award-winning brewery. (140 awards to date) Today Cameron’s remains true to its roots with a dedicated team of experts brewers with worldwide training who are committed to brewing delicious, quality, locally crafted beer.

What are the biggest challenges for you as a brewer in Ontario?

The distribution structure is highly regulated. Ontario’s approach to the sale of alcohol hasn’t been very progressive compared to some other jurisdictions in the world but the change to sell beer in grocery stores was welcomed by the beer industry last year.  Getting great tasting local craft beer to the beer aficionado is a daily challenge in a market still dominated but the foreign- owned  oligopolies 

What kind of music do you listen to when you are working? 

Classic Rock. I am stuck in the 60’s and 70’s.  Supertramp, Pink Floyd, Creedence Clearwater Rival… Do they have modern day rivals?

Do you have a way to organize your days to optimize your work  It is a constant struggle, as a hands-on owner to prioritize the strategic long-term growth initiatives rather than running around putting out fires.  I create a lot of lists and try to stick to them.

What tips would you give to improve productivity? 

Time management is one of the most important skills to master to improve productivity. It is a very delicate balance to strike especially when your day’s workload is most of the time varied and unpredictable. I have not mastered it yet!

What is the best advice anyone has given you?

 Live your dream and do something that you really like to do and you will never feel like going to work is a drag.

What is your routine start and end of the day? 

I am a news junkie so I am always listening to news channels or browsing the newspaper and news channels.  I actually still get an old-fashioned newspaper and read it with the morning coffee.

Aside from your computer and your phone, what gadget can you not you go without? 

Apps like Waze that allow you to save time especially if you’re on the road a lot.

3 Ontario craft beers that we must try? 

Cameron’s Cosmic Cream Ale, Cameron’s Unblended 2012 Oak Aged Doppelbock and Flying Monkeys Chocolate Manifesto

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a brewery?  

Starting a brewery is a lot more than producing good beer although it is crucial to have a quality product. Having an excellent brewmaster is key. Marketing your products so that they stand out in the consumers’ minds is the other very important side of the equation and that sometimes can be very hard to achieve in a crowded marketplace.

If you are partnering with other individuals make sure you have the same vision. Be careful partnering with existing owners as they can be happy to take an infusion of new capital and remain stuck in their ideas and unwilling to make changes.

Hiring good people is also not easy especially in sales where turnover is extremely high.