Industry Insider Q & A
Director of Marketing, Steam Whistle Brewing
Sybil Taylor was first introduced to the beer industry through an internship at Guelph, Ont.’s Upper Canada Brewing. After that she was hooked. “I just loved the beer industry. It’s so much fun, really social and I loved the entrepreneurial nature of Upper Canada.” When a co-worker left and eventually co-founded Steam Whistle Brewing in 1999, she was the new company’s first employee and helped to launch the company’s brand. Today the brewery still focuses on its core product, Steam Whistle Pilsner, and has grown to 110 employees. At the same time it has grown its green initiatives. Its signature green bottles can be reused twice as often as the standard industry bottle. The company uses deep lake water cooling instead of Freon-based air conditioning and it uses district steam heat. More recently Steam Whistle implemented Bullfrog Power, so that the brewery is 100-per-cent powered by electricity that comes from wind-generation farms or low-impact hydro. It also uses a bio-fuel, which is made of recycled restaurant grease and soy fuel. The initiatives are costly, says Taylor, but “we feel strongly that it’s the right thing to do for the future. And people are quite inspired by that and are more loyal to our product because of those sorts of things that we do.” The company was also recently nominated for a Green Toronto Award.
What do you love most about your job?
“The youthful, creative atmosphere. Beer is a social product and there’s great energy here. I really enjoy my co-workers and the atmosphere.”
What is your management philosophy?
“We have a motto on our bottles, ‘The good beer folks.’ And that pervades everything we do. There’s a real focus on quality, but it also relates to being a great employer and a good corporate citizen. We’re all about providing opportunities to people, being really open in our communications, creating trust with employees and getting their involvement. We have a very open management and communication style, and that really is one of our success factors.”
What is the most challenging part of your job?
“There’s never enough time or resources to implement the hundreds of creative ideas that we have around our brand. It’s a fun, social product with interesting retro aspects. We get ideas from employees, and customers also have a very involved relationship with our product. It’s what you call a badge product – people wear the brand of beer that they’re drinking on their sleeve so people know a lot about them just by looking at the brand they’re holding in their hands. You wouldn’t believe the e-mail people send us with ideas, new point-of-sale material or a shrine they’ve created. It’s amazing the stuff that comes forward.”