Sleeman finds integration recipe for success
In 1933, during the last year of prohibition, relatives of George A. Sleeman were caught smuggling beer in Detroit, Michigan and given the option to pay the beer taxes and sell the business or lose possession. Sleeman chose the first option.
September 25, 2009 By Jennifer Brown
It’s been about 20 years since the company reopened its doors to brew
beer, and two years since Sapporo Breweries of Japan bought Sleeman Breweries. Today, most of the Sapporo beer produced for export to the
U.S. is now made at the Guelph, Ont. Brewery, and concerns about
getting supplies across the border to the U.S. securely still remains a
concern, but for very different reasons.
“We’re doing contract brewing and now a large portion of what is brewed
for Sapporo goes to the U.S.,” says Linden Gossen, national health and
safety manager with Sleeman Breweries.
With so much product destined for the U.S., Sleeman wanted to upgrade
its security measures with an eye towards firming up its procedures to
be compliant with the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism
(C-TPAT), which addresses issues pertaining to supply chain and U.S.
border security. It asks businesses to ensure the integrity of their
security practices and communicate and verify the security guidelines
of their business partners within the supply chain.
“From the business risk assessments we did we concluded that if there
was an issue at the border it could be a problem for our major brands,”
says Gossen. “So we were looking into mitigating some of that risk and
that prompted some action on our part in terms of building up our
Sleeman Breweries has also experienced tremendous growth in the last
few years and while C-TPAT was one driver, it wasn’t the only reason
Gossen wanted to improve the security profile of the company.
“We were already heading down a track of tightening up security and
making sure we know who is in the buildings at all times,” he says.
“You wouldn’t recognize this place from what it was like 21 years ago.
There are also a lot of contractors on site – and that’s been a real
challenge to manage. What we’ve determined as an organization is that
we need to make sure that we have control and we know who is on site
and what’s happening with our facilities.”
With the company growing, the need to have better access control measures in place became critical.
“We used to have a very familiar relationship with contractors on site
but with the growth we are at the point now where we have individuals
here who will say they don’t recognize everyone by sight which was the
case when there were only 100 people working here. We’re now up to
about 300 people on site and the need for those controls became more
evident as we grew,” says Gossen.
To achieve a greater level of security and a sense that they had a true
partner to help roll out the additional security measures, Gossen says
he redefined what he wanted in a service provider.
“My main focus here at the plant is health and safety and security was
an added level of responsibility so I really needed someone who wanted
to be a true security partner.”
After evaluating various options he decided to go with a local company
that had been providing fire monitoring and sprinkler support for the
last five years — Bulldog Fire and Security of Kitchener-Waterloo. And
while Bulldog is local, Gossen needed a provider that could also
operate across the country.
“We have three other breweries — in Vernon, one just outside Montreal
and one in Halifax, so while local was important, I wanted someone who
could help us deal with security issues that went beyond local.”
Gossen nominated Bulldog Fire and Security for the Security System Integrator of the Year Award, which is sponsored each year by Anixter. Bulldog was ultimately chosen by the SP&T News editorial advisory board as the 2009 Integrator of the Year.
Not happy with what the company’s previous security provider was doing
for him, Gossen says the thing he went looking for someone who would
work with him on issues and not just respond to emergencies.
“When I began discussions with Bulldog Fire and Security it was clear
they wanted to partner with us. It was clear they weren’t just waiting
for our emergency calls, but they were coming in and saying, ‘We
noticed something here, how do you want to address that? Let’s work
together.’ That’s been really helpful.”
Bulldog was already providing support on the fire side going back five
years to when it had taken over the ULC listed fire monitoring and
providing service and annual inspections to their sprinkler and fire
“It was monitored by their security provider at the time and the
proprietary equipment that they were using was not to ULC standards,”
Bulldog was brought in with an engineer to help get Sleeman up-to-speed
in terms of the Ontario Fire Code and the monitoring of their sprinkler
system and fire alarm panels.
Over the years the relationship grew. In the last three years Bulldog
has removed the proprietary access control system and replaced it with
a Keyscan non-proprietary access control system and introduced DSC for
the security system.
“During this process, Keyscan wrote custom software to make it happen
and we started them with a DSC Maxsys series unit with an eye towards
creating a solution to integrate together,” says McCann.
Sleeman is also looking at using the access control cards for their time and attendance system.
“We’ve already installed access control in their Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
plant and have plans to possibly do others,” says McCann.
A new automatic gate (Automatic Systems BLG-76) was also put in at the warehouse location in Guelph.
The gate system is a significant aspect of making sure the shipping and receiving area is secure — a key element for C-TPAT.
“In our shipping area we needed tighter control but it had to be a
system that allowed us to have ready access. We installed an automatic
gate with a video feed back to the shipping office and it’s allowed for
convenient use of that system,” says Gossen.
Now, when a truck arrives at the plant there are several additional controls in place to secure the loading area.
When a truck driver approaches the pedestal at the entry gate he is
instructed to push the call button to the shipper/receiver (if he
doesn’t have an access control card) and the phone in the shipping
office rings. If the shipper is there he can view the monitor to see
who is at the gate and allow entry. If no one is in the office after
five rings it dials one of the wireless phones on the floor. If the
shipper is on the forklift he can confirm who is at the gate, hit the
star button and activate the gate to allow entry. The gate takes about
five seconds to open and as the truck rolls through and activates the
close loop as the gate closes.
The Viking auto dialer is also a push-to-talk model due to the
diesel truck motors interfering with the automatic microphone pickup on
“We also made sure that the gate automatically opens upon a fire alarm,” says McCann.
Bulldog also upgraded the video surveillance system and DVR’s and
integrated them with software at both plants in Guelph. The previous
camera system was upgraded to a Pelco system and two years ago.
At the first plant, Sleeman had a combination of different cameras (in place recording on a proprietary recording unit.
“We upgraded all of the outdoor cameras to Pelco IS110DW-V9 dome
cameras and all of the indoor cameras to IS90CH-V9. We ended up adding
11 more new cameras throughout the facility and we wired them with CAT5
in the event they wanted to upgrade to IP cameras in the future. The
Keyscan DVR’s were not available then so we used the Pelco DX8124. We
had installed a lot of these units for other customers and found they
were the best and most reliable unit on the market at the time,” he
says. At the second plant, Bulldog upgraded all of their existing
cameras except for about five, repositioned some and replaced the
proprietary DVR to a Pelco the same as at the first plant.
“The CCTV system was integrated with the access control system we
eventually put in which was Keyscan Vantage and the Maxsys security
system from DSC completed the security portion of that — three systems
meshed together providing the solution to fulfill their needs,” says
McCann. “So you’re doing so many things with different product lines
but all married together and if one system is out of commission the
others are working.”
McCann says there was a lot of customization done to fulfill what
Gossen was looking to put in place. “We did some unique things — we
went to Keyscan and they wrote software and made changes to make the
system user friendly with drill-down maps so whether you’re head of
security or in maintenance you could with little instruction learn to
navigate and make it user friendly.
“We needed the ability to change the status of the security system to
get one system to talk to another and it really turned out very well,”
McCann says the key to doing business today, in his mind, is being
flexible to customer needs and really understanding what it is they
want to achieve — especially so with companies operating in different
location with different needs.
“Security is always evolving and changing and every security system is
different. We have to be service oriented and we can extend that
through our dealer network,” he says.
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