#It’sAllHappeningNow. The Settlement Building is home to Postmark Brewery, Belgard Kitchen and Vancouver Urban Winery. Steve Thorp, the man responsible behind these three delicious brands, taught us how to build meaningful brands, how to throw parties, and how to work with friends.
“My official title is CEO of our company but I feel like I’’m kind of everybody’s best friend and everybody’s teammate.”
I’ll grab a six pack…
My business partner, Mike Macquisten, and I have two corporations and three brands under each corporation. Under the Settlement Building corporation we have Vancouver Urban Winery (a boutique winery), Postmark Brewing (craft beer), and Belgard Kitchen (fresh local food) which makes up the food, beverage, hospitality, and brand business. On the other side of our company we have FreshTAP, which includes FreshTAP (wine kegging operation), Direct TAP (distribution technology warehousing arm), and Roaring Twenties Wine Co. (kegged wine).
“Every time you see a tap in the market at a restaurant, its usually us that’s providing the wine, the service, distributing it, technology behind it.”
We created the Antidote Marketing Agency, our first company, as a vehicle to find our next project to invest in. We meshed all the knowledge from my past sales experience and all of Mike’s knowledge in beer and spirits, plus all the knowledge we gained from Antidote and founded our next company wine on tap.
“We wanted to use Antidote to explore the beer, spirits and wine markets.”
Each one of our brands has a distinctive voice. A lot of people might look at it and think that it’s very complex and that there is a lot going on, and there is – but when you are able to do it with the discipline and focus that our team has, it can be quite successful individually but all together as well. The Settlement building is the home for all the brands, and next year there could be another brand within the Settlement building.
“The tagline for Settlement building is “a collective or lifestyle and manufacturing of brands” and what the Settlement building is, is just that.”
A butcher, a baker and a candlestick maker
Our goal was to have a brewery, a winery, and a kitchen all in this building. We didn’t know how long that was going take and we didn’t know what the expansion of FreshTAP was going to look like on both an operational standpoint and a sales standpoint. It took us two years, we built an expansion plan for FreshTAP and moved it to a new location which opened up the door for us last year to start developing Postmark and Belgard Kitchen.
Vancouver Urban Winery has always been a very community oriented brand focused on urban environment. We threw a lot of parties at the beginning to take our business off the ground and to create some cash flow in order to keep investing into fresh tap.
“In first 3 years, we threw a good 50 parties in this space, and its brand equity was built quite strong within our community.”
Then you go over to Postmark – I have a dozen campaigns in the pipeline until Christmas and I’m already working on next summer.
“ It’s a big brand and a big product, so a lot of energy is put into marketing it.”
Belgard kitchen is a completely different communication. We market Belgard Kitchen to the consumer as traditional restaurant, very boutique, very urban, very niche – we don’t do any traditional marketing for it.
“It’s all word of mouth, all community based, all community initiatives.”
I have a really fantastic operational partner so we split the businesses. We run about 95/5 percent of time of management each way. We spend about 5 percent of time crossing over, with high level strategy, board decisions and any BIG campaigns and programs that we are running. The majority of my time is now focused on the Settlement Building companies themselves and making sure they are running properly financially and that we are heading in the right direction.
Work. Life. Balance?
You can call me a workaholic, but my work and my life have blended together so much over the years, that when I leave work for the day, and lets say I’m hitting the beach with friends, I’m bringing Postmark, I’m promoting Postmark, I’m wearing Postmark, I’m talking about Postmark, I’m always selling. As an entrepreneur you are always selling.
“The reason why you initially become successful in your communities is because you are promoted by your community.”
If I had an extra hour a day I would fish more for sure – it’s my zen. I like to just be outside doing absolutely anything, hiking, camping, fishing, dirt biking, playing a sport, being at the beach, hanging with friends.
If you are starting as an entrepreneur, find yourself a mentor, someone close to you, someone not close to you, someone specific in your business, someone who’s not, all that matters is that it’s somebody you can trust, aspire to, and have as a sounding board to learn from. It has helped me in so many ways.