Busy week, last week. Not a good week, not a bad week, but a busy one for sure, with lots of ups and downs and in-betweens.
We've been struggling with our new bottling line since we bought it. It has lots of nice features, but the company we bought it from is small and can't really give us the support we need to really get the thing running smoothly. Well, last week it really went down in a big way. In trying to solve the problem (we think we have) we also found a great technician (we think) who might actually be able to help us to get the line really running at peak performance. In the meantime, we reorganized bottling staff to run on our little manual two-head filler running two shifts/day to keep some amount of beer still flowing to our LCBO accounts, who have been really patient and supportive over this summer of not-enough-supply.
We also did our first official performance evaluation last week. We've recently hired an HR person (her name is Karen, and she's awesome) to help us manage all our people stuff better. Growing from 5 employees to 30 in two years has been awesome, but it has created a lot of people issues and we've come to realize we need someone focussed on them so that we don't goof stuff up. Making sure people get their evaluations on time and in a consistent fashion, our health plan is administered properly and keeping on top of potential health and safety issues is all really important. It all has a bittersweet feeling to it as well, and as we start implementing policy on things like overtime and sick leave, I'm filled with nostalgia for the good old days.
Don't get me wrong, I'm proud and excited about all of our growth and the opportunities it has given us to do cooler and cooler things. But I kinda miss the days when everybody just worked as much as possible and things got sorted out later. Well, that is, until I remember how difficult it actually was, and then I'm glad we hired Karen again.
I got to go on the A-Channel for their morning program on Friday. I love the A-Channel crew. They are all great, really like our beer and are incredibly welcoming. I remember the first time we did a segment at the Black Tomato and when it cut back to Kurt he kept saying "I'm a LugTread Man" for something like 30 seconds. Since then he's been to our Oktoberfest, visited the brewery and is genuinely excited about all things Beau's (well, except maybe our brewery band, the OhYeahs, I don't think he's a fan of that).
This weekend was also West Fest. An annual street festival that has just grown by leaps and bounds. This was our first year being part of WEstFest, and it was a real treat. The event runs like clockwork and it is such a uniquely entertaining and awesome event it really stands out. A free festival boasting big names like Sloan, that also promotes local talent and also features spoken word and aboriginal talent and also has a great kids section and also has a huge sidewalk sale and I could go on, but I think you get the point.
Well this year, the weather also really cooperated - it was supposed to rain all day Saturday and Sunday, but instead after a shower in the morning on Saturday it was sunny and warm all weekend. This resulted in a panicked call from Darren (our kick-ass special events and sponsorship guru on Sunday morning "Steve, we're gonna run out of beer". At first, I was pretty worried by this news, as I opened our walk-in cooler and saw a grand total of one 50L keg ready to go. But once I learned that we had more beer in a bright tank (tank that holds filtered beer ready to be kegged), I relaxed a bit. A few calls later and i had some help, too. Matt M (who does most of our kegging and a lot more at the brewery) was able to come in and help get beer into kegs. While I washed the kegs, Matt got the kegging line cleaned and ready and filled up 14 kegs. I put them in our truck and drove them up to Ottawa and everything worked out great.