Case Study – Fernie Brewing Company

About the Client

Steps from the Crowsnest Highway that carves its way through some of the world’s most striking mountain vistas sits Fernie Brewing Company (FBC), one of Canada’s foremost family-owned craft brewers.

Founded in the family barn of the Pask family in 2003, the purveyor of premium pilsners, lagers and ales quickly outgrew its quaint surroundings and relocated to its current location – featuring a state-of-the-art brewhouse, tasting room and store in one building and a distribution centre in another.

It boasts a hard-earned reputation for quality products and service that has won it a dedicated and growing customer base across Western Canada. That growth has extended to its now 50-person operational team, of which 20% are fully remote sales staff.

Fernie Brewing Company Logo. Photo captured by Mark Eleven Photography

The Challenge

From day one, FBC knew two important things for any brewery to understand: 1) that they could brew great beer and 2) being an expert in ales does not make you an expert in IT.

So, from early in its operations FBC knew it was critical to have a partner who could support their needs for today, help them grow for tomorrow and act like an extended part of their team every day.

“We have teams that focus on the brewery in Fernie itself and remote sales staff that we need to constantly communicate with. They need IT tools which can help them do what they need to do every day,” says Mark Barron, CA, Business Manager for Fernie Brewing Company. “We needed a partner that could provide us with seamless integration across the entire organization while being capable of growing alongside us and addressing issues quickly if and when they arise.”

“We have teams that focus on the brewery in Fernie itself and remote sales staff that we need to constantly communicate with. They need IT tools which can help them do what they need to do every day,” says Mark Barron, CA, Business Manager for Fernie Brewing Company. “We needed a partner that could provide us with seamless integration across the entire organization while being capable of growing alongside us and addressing issues quickly if and when they arise.”

 

 

Growth has been a fundamental theme for FBC as the company increased its markets served, the volume of beer produced, headcount and physical footprint. Ensuring that costs remain in check and the company keeps value for its money as a priority has been critical to supporting that growth.

The Solution

FBC’s working relationship with Sunco began in 2022 when its longtime IT service provider, Isosceles Business Systems, joined the Sunco family. “Isosceles was a great business partner for us for many years, helping to take care of our IT needs and letting us focus on our core business,” says Barron. “We’ve been thrilled that the same dedication and partnership has not just continued but grown with Sunco these past few years.

Today Sunco provides end-to-end IT support for FBC, including all hardware, installation and building setup. When FBC’s new distribution center opened, Sunco provided the physical security systems and full IT setup for the facility, which included a remote link and shared internet between its two buildings. FBC has also come onto Sunco’s Managed Services Platform, supporting everything from email security to back-of-house (brewing and packaging) IT integration.

Sunco has also introduced an online IT support ticketing system to help FBC deal with any issues quickly, replacing the previous ad hoc approach of emails and phone calls. With the new, regimented approach, FBC can get priority service, keep complete track of incidents, empower its employees to be a part of the IT process and ensure incidents are resolved quickly and completely.

“Sunco has been able to deal with everything we’ve asked of them as we expand and have really helped us not worry about needing help. There’s been a bit of change in how we operate, but it has always been changes that have been for the best,” adds Barron. “It’s nice to know in real-time that things are being dealt with without having to chase up on things. “

 

The Outcome

For Barron, IT hasn’t just become a central part of how FBC operates – it’s also a key component in the company’s continued growth.

“New markets, new customers, new volumes and even new products like our recently-launched LOGO non-alcoholic line – we’re constantly outgrowing our current set-ups. Sunco has been able to take a forward-looking view and grow with us at every turn,” he says. “With an increased footprint and more interconnection between IT and everything from our machines to our systems to our remote staff, it’s clear that IT and connectivity are central in where we can go as a business.”

 

Lastly, as a trained Chartered Accountant, numbers are never far from Barron’s mind. But even as the company’s needs expand and a stronger case can be made for hiring a dedicated IT resource in-house, FBC has not felt rushed to make any changes to its working relationship.

From a financial perspective we get very good value for the services we receive,” he adds. “Sunco has been a true partner and an extended member of our team. We can trust them to focus on everything IT so that we can continue to focus on what we do best – brewing great beer.”

About Sunco

Sunco is your trusted independent business telecom and managed IT systems integrator, with more than 20 years of experience helping companies of all sizes get more from their telecommunications and IT services.

From helping clients find areas of cost savings and performance improvement to implementing fully managed, customized security, networking and cloud solutions that can scale as their business grow, Sunco delivers high-quality, integrated business communications solutions with the employee-level commitment and collaborative approach every client relationship deserves.