Thursday, July 09, 2009

HNT - Pardon My Big Moose Head

I just finished reading a wonderful book that captures the story of the family-owned business that created and still runs Moosehead Breweries. It is called LAST CANADIAN BEER: The Moosehead Story, and is by Harvey Sawler.

Sawler has done a magnificent job of documenting the story and insights behind the company's beginnings, the many challenges it faced over its 142 year history, as well as taking a frank and candid look at how this small New Brunswick family business operates and succeeds despite the fact that all the other major Canadian owned breweries like Labatt, Molson and Sleeman have sold out to multi-national corporations.

I find it interesting at how these non-Canadian multi-nationals like Molson and Labatt continue to make expensive advertising campaigns focusing on their "Canadian-ness" when they have virtually abandoned Canada. Meanwhile, Moosehead continues to focus on the product, the processes and the thing that makes them truely unique, truly independent, and Truely Canadian, often while operating below the big radars of such campaigns. Simply put, they don't have the funds to support large ad campaigns like that -- they just keep on keeping on, and winning consumers over on a more personal level, similar to the way that Philip (P. W.) Oland made a habit of keeping in touch with his employees and customers in the early to mid 1900's.

I bought the book because I enjoy Moosehead Lager, love the fact that this beer company is still proudly Canadian and proudly independent and wanted to learn more about the company and its origins. After having learned more about this company and the family and staff behind it's six generations of operation, I'm even more adamant in my support of this proud, time-honoured underdog in the Canadian beer market.

I'd mentioned a little while ago on this blog how impressed I was to receive a birthday card from Moosehead. While the book doesn't go into detail giving examples of these small touches that make the company special and their customers feel special too, it does nicely cover how Oland leadership has continually put the people who work for and with Moosehead first, and how that makes a tremendous difference. There is a true dedicated work ethic and down-to-earth nature inherint in the Oland family and in the operation of Moosehead Breweries and I'm further honoured to invest my beer money with their company.

It's true that, as Sawler states: ". . . in today's culture, you become defined by what you wear, what you drive, where you hang out and what you drink." For that reason, I'm proud to define myself as a Moosehead drinker. And this past weekend at the Levack District High School 2009 reunion, I was delighted to have a giant cooler of iced filed with Moosehead Lager to serve to my friends. LDHS was defined as "Small But Powerful" and Moosehead can be seen in a very similar light. It was thus, a fitting beverage of choice.

Kudos to the Oland family and all the people behind Moosehead Breweries, kudos to Harvey Sawler for this compelling and fascinating read that tells their tale and kudos to Nimbus Publishing for producing this book.

In honour of Moosehead and Harvey's book, my HNT picture this week is of the moose head that I proudly wear.

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