There were 18 members in attendance this morning, joined by prospective members, Major Norman Hamelin and Vic Andrushko, and by guest speaker Philip Shoesmith.  RYE Cookie Schworan was also a bright and cheery addition to the meeting, along with friend, Chance Grant. 


Cara MacDonald spoke about “Coats For Kids” during Two Minutes of Rotary, outlining all the tasks that will require volunteers from the beginning of October to distribution day on November 2.  Cara will have sign-up sheets at the next meeting and she warned the members that if they don’t sign up, they will be appointed or, as the old Rotary saying goes “volun-told”.

Announcements included a reminder from John O’Brien that the excursion to join the Port Alberni Arrowsmith Rotary meeting will take place next Tuesday, September 24, leaving at 6 am.  Bruce Huxtable also announced that the Qualicum Beach Sunrise Roses Sale is in full swing, with roses at $30/dozen which will be delivered on October 19.

Our guest speaker this morning was Philip Shoesmith from Hopfingers U-Brew and Wine-making, a Parksville business since 1993. As part of our Entrepreneurial Series, Phillip provided his perspectives on business truths and trends that he has observed over the years.  He began by talking about staff retention.  He expressed his view that it can be a challenge to keep staff happy, but it is so important so that customers pick up a good “vibe” when they enter the store.  Philip believes it is important to give his staff ownership of their jobs and allow them to make mistakes.  Repeat business is “100% important” to Philip’s business and this is reflected in the importance he places on a harmonious staff environment.

Philip has noticed many changes in his business during the past 20 years.  Changing tastes have led to an increase in wine over beer-making.  When he first opened, his business was 50/50 beer to wine; now, it is 20/80, although the craft beer market is now on the rise.  It is important to adapt to such trends.  

Philip has also found that side aspects have become important to his business.  These include services such as barrel aging and carbonation.  Customers can also bring in their own fruit to have their wine made.  There are cycles during the year, such as the busy pre-Christmas wine-making season.  The summer season is generally slower, so these months provide time for services that can’t be done during the busy times.  It all helps to level off the year.

There were many questions from the members, ample proof of the popularity of this topic.  Philip was asked for his opinion on how to choose a good wine kit.  He stated that the cheaper kits contain more sugar, while the top end kits have none. The difference in quality is reflected in the end product.  When asked about the savings with the u-brew operation, Philip said it was about 50%.  Cheaper wine kits will cost about $3 per bottle while higher quality kits will run at about $6.  The product is equivalent to a good table wine which would cost about $15-20 in the store.   Philip’s beer kits are all-grain beers and produce the equivalent to store-bought beer at about half the price. Philip noted that his industry is constantly evolving and that it is important to “stay on the ball” and remain focused on one’s goal.

Philip was thanked by Gord Elliott, and John O’Brien was also recognized for introducing this excellent Entrepreneurial Series to the Club.


Gord Elliott then stepped up to the plate and found a joke that he “just happened to have in his back pocket”.   Thanks Gord.  The 50/50 of $17 was won by Ken Armstrong, and Sergeant Ian performed with his usual aplomb.

Next Meeting:  Joan Ryan and Ken Neden will tell the Club about Project Lifesaver.