Customer Stories

Accounting for Distilleries

Joe Collins, CPA, CA
December 31, 2020

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Distilling Real Business Growth

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Dave and Andrea Brimacombe had huge plans for their retirement. “Wouldn’t it be great to build our own distillery?” they mused. They could picture it: They’d create and sell small-batch, handcrafted spirits, and throw open the doors for tours and tastings in the heart of the Comox Valley. Yes, once they’d called it quits, that’s precisely what they’d do.

But then something rather unexpected happened.

The BC Government relaxed liquor laws and micro-distilling soon became a viable business option. And with that, Dave and Andrea’s distillery dream became a reality; and well ahead of schedule too.

A Business Going Places

Some three and a half years later, their business is booming. Wayward Distillation House distills gin, vodka, rum, liqueurs, and barrel-aged spirits, all using BC’s finest all-natural honey. (Why honey? Check out their website for an explanation - it’s seriously interesting!)

This young and growing business has been gathering momentum, and now - depending on the time of year - the distillery receives anywhere from 20 to 60 visitors a day.

With so much early promise, Dave and Andrea started to think about the long-term future of their business. Where could they take this thing in the next 5 years? 10 years? Could they go global? Or even just afford to take weekends off? And what did they need to do to achieve that?

But as is often the case when trying to grow anything, there came a sticking point. They were all so busy doing what they do best, that they simply didn’t have the time to put those ideas into action.

And with so much on their plate, important admin tasks such as accounting, tax, and payroll soon fell down the list of priorities.

When you have 80 hours of work to do, there’s no time to work on the business! — Andrea Brimacombe

That’s when they came to us. They knew they had to outsource those tasks and work with an accountant who understood their business and where they wanted to take it. They also knew they required guidance and direction in order to raise the funds required to grow.

‘Mission to Action’ Blackboard Session

We sat down with Dave and Andrea in their Comox Valley home, where one of the walls is an entire blackboard. We started the conversation by talking about the big vision: what were their plans for growth? Where did they want to be in the future? What did they want their lifestyle to look like? All these ideas, plans and goals came out into the open, and together we broke each one down into specific details.

One of the big questions asked was: “How much money are you making? How much do you want to make?” We had to get down to brass tacks, because when you focus on the essentials, you can start to work backwards to figure out how to achieve your goals. So we did just that, we worked backwards.

And it was very clear, very quickly, that they knew their stuff. They knew their margins, knew their most profitable channels, and knew that in order to achieve their growth targets, they had to increase production capacity.

So, armed with all of this new information, we mapped out a specific 5-year plan for growth.

Building a Bridge

Our Blackboard Session also made something else abundantly clear: the need for a business loan to bridge a funding gap, increase production capacity, and pursue that growth plan. The next step was to introduce them to a few of our connections to help them get the ball rolling. Before long, they were in front of the country’s only bank exclusively devoted to entrepreneurs.

Together with Dave and Andrea, we helped prepare them for the pitch to the Business Development Bank of Canada, providing the relevant financial information required to answer the loan rep’s questions.

Dave and Andrea then stepped up to the plate and knocked it out the park. And one sizeable - and serviceable - equipment loan later, things have never looked better for Wayward.

Everything Has Changed!

When Dave and Andrea first came to us, they had no time for their accounting, let alone pursuing business finance. Now, we take care of their monthly bookkeeping, payroll, business and personal taxes, track sales, and provide monthly financial reports.

In fact, if you were to ask them what’s changed since our Blackboard Session, they’ll tell you: “Everything!”

  • Where once their production hours were 16-17 hour days, chasing their tails with little show for it, they’re now working 7 hours a day and producing more thanks to the new equipment.
  • The monthly financials have made them more aware of the cash required to run the company, and how much is needed to see them through the slower season.
  • And we also continue to meet with them on an ad-hoc basis to help them stay on track with their 5-year plan.

Wayward Has Lift-off

“Joe’s idea of accounting showed us what’s possible. We’re in Comox and he’s in Victoria, but with the right technology we’ve been able to do everything online. Emails, phone calls, video chats – we’re in constant communication, which is really important to us”.

“Avalon gave us the ability to grow 800% in eight months, and we’re now on track with our 5-year growth plan to be fully sustainable, and to sell our products worldwide.”

The sooner we started working with the right accountant, the sooner we felt the weight lift off our shoulders. — Andrea Brimacombe

As for the future, Dave and Andrea’s goal is to have weekends off, and to step back a little, while continuing to grow the company without overwhelming their staff.

And together, we can help them achieve this.

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Article by
Joe Collins, CPA, CA
Originally published
December 31, 2020
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