In 1987, five friends opened the doors of Great Lakes Brewery (GLB) in a small strip mall in Brampton, Ontario with the goal to one day to each operate a brewery around the great lakes. In the 34 years since, the brewery has grown and evolved in just about every aspect. GLB has changed owners (1990), moved to new locations, revamped the business’s branding, and is now producing 22,000 barrels of beer per year. GLB will open its second location, the Great Lakes Brewpub, on Toronto’s East Bayfront, in 2022.
Scattered papers, tons of spreadsheets, and communication without collaboration are in Great Lakes’ “before times.” The brewery was producing at a large scale, but didn’t have the tools the team needed to stay organized and work together to produce trendy and adventurous brews.
Great Lakes’ operation has utilized Ekos to create more accurate forecasting, work collaboratively each day, and efficiently manage the brewery’s large volume of invoices.
Ted Zacharopoulos, the brewery’s business analyst manager, said that the software’s inventory and production tools allow GLB to save time and have better peace of mind every day. On Mondays, Ted syncs sales and inventory from the weekend and begins crunching numbers. By midday, he’s meeting with senior management to discuss pain points for the week ahead and where each team member needs to send their focus — something that wouldn’t be possible without Ekos. “Ekos is the backbone of those meetings,” he said. “Without each team member’s focus on sales, inventory, invoicing, and more throughout the week in Ekos, the business wouldn’t be able to look ahead and learn from the past.”
As a new year approaches, GLB is using Ekos’s historical record-keeping and forecasting capabilities to create meaningful goals for the next two years. Ted says sales totals he’s collected from past years are allowing him to predict where the business is going after 2020, utilizing data from 2019 to set realistic goals.
Ted and the GLB team are opening a new location in Toronto very soon, which is something Ted has worked on since he started working at GLB. “I can almost taste it,” he said. Opening a new spot means lots of decisions for Ted and the team to make — luckily, deciding on the point-of-sale system was easy. The team already uses Square at the Etobicoke location, and the Ekos integration has been invaluable. Keeping the integration consistent at both locations means that GLB can have up-to-date inventory and continue syncing invoices the way they already do in Etobicoke.
For GLB, Ekos “answers all of our questions,” Ted said. From inventory to production to sales, the software gives GLB the ability to have more clarity and collaboration, and less “broken telephone.”