wine clubs and palletizing cases of empty bottles from Asia that had arrived stacked floor-to-ceiling in the shipping container.

“We also apply decorative labels by steam-shrinking whole sleeves onto the bottles,” Said explained. Last year, 42,000 bottles received sleeves.

Again, responding to customer needs, Said began warehousing when customers asked him to store their full bottles.

In addition, Said warehouses other items, such as new wine barrels from France.

“We pick up the barrels, palletize them and store until needed,” he said. Demand for warehousing services grew and soon the MBSC facilities at the Robinson Road site were filled. Almost four years ago, Said leased space in the former packinghouse on Jubilee Road East.

“It’s a win-win-win for wineries, BC Tree Fruits and the community at large,” he said.

Today, Said warehouses for 50 wineries.

All except two are in the Okanagan and those two, which are in the Lower Mainland, have their wine bottled in the Valley.

Said ensures a temperature controlled environment for customers which necessitates cooling in the summer and heating in the winter. “It helps that the building with its thick concrete walls was a packinghouse with cold storage and refrigeration facilities,” Said explained.

He has installed an updated coolant-based cooling system replacing the former ammonia-based system.

Some customers warehouse their wine in isolated rooms with a constant temperature throughout the year while the majority use space where the ambient temperature is kept been 12 C and 18 C year around. Purchase and installation of the temperature control equipment required a substantial investment. “Currently, we’re working on a long-term plan for us and the packing house,” Said explained.

MBWC has almost filled its leased half of the former packinghouse—the other half is unavailable.

Finding additional space is a major challenge, especially for a customer- focused business.

British Columbia FRUIT GROWER • Spring 2018 15

It’s costly to build new and there aren’t many large buildings available. “How do we continue to say ‘yes’ and do so in a way that is both cost- effective for the customer and profitable for us?”

Said is also concerned about maintaining high quality service as the company grows.

“Customers are our friends. We

don’t want to drop the ball as we expand,” he said.

Several other facilities in the Okanagan offer warehousing services. “We all target markets which are a little different,” Said explained. MBWC focuses on cost-effective, long-term storage for small to medium-sized wineries.

Other warehouses, which are more concerned with retail, store product for short periods and provide distribution services.

Sometimes called ‘pick and ship’ operations, these businesses usually have established delivery routes to pubs, liquor stores and restaurants. “We deliver wine stored with us to these distribution warehouses which in turn take it to the point of sale,”

Said explained.

Still other warehouses service primarily large wineries, while at least one specializes in the storage and distribution of hard alcohol. To provide its varied services, MBWC hires over two dozen full-time employees.

Several employees, usually students, are seasonal full-time. “It’s really all about the employees. They make it happen. We wouldn’t be successful without them,” he said. When hiring, Said is more concerned about an individual’s attitude and character than any specific skills.

“Skills can be learned. I want to know if the person will fit within our team.”

There is little turnover in the MBSC crew; some members have been with the company for years.

Both of Said’s sons, Jordan and Graham, worked at MBWC before leaving home.

Said’s wife, Lori, oversees the warehouse software system and his daughter, Danielle, works in administration.

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