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Nov 25, 2020

Building a Career Around Beer: Dave Klaassen’s Professional Journey

Get to know more about Dave and his team, his exciting career journey in the beer industry, and the Sleeman Breweries culture in today’s feature.

Welcome to the very first Life at Sleeman Breweries blog feature! These blogs are intended to provide you with an inside look into life at Sleeman Breweries and to introduce you to the many passionate, dedicated, and talented individuals on the Sleeman team.

These blogs will provide career growth tips from our leaders, information about our amazing team and the work we do, and insights into the employee experience at Sleeman Breweries.

First up, we’re spotlighting our VP of Operations and Logistics, Dave Klaassen. Dave has worked in the brewing industry for nearly his entire career, joining Sleeman Breweries 15 years ago.

Tell us a little about your career story? How did you get to where you are today?

I am a beer industry “lifer!” I actually started working in the beer industry when I was a student in 1984, and to this day I’ve never left. I am fortunate enough to have worked with tremendous leaders who have provided me with opportunities for personal development and paved my way through different roles, project assignments, and mentorship and training opportunities.

Because of all the different roles I’ve held, I’ve had the opportunity to learn the technical side of the brewing business from every angle. In this industry the power of collaboration and working towards a common goal are really important.

Why did you join Sleeman Breweries?

I joined Sleeman Breweries for the opportunity to make a difference. By the time I joined in 2005, Sleeman was already a well-established success story in the Canadian brewing industry. My goal was to complement the company’s strengths and to use my experience and knowledge in the brewing industry to address areas of improvement.

I felt a sense of confidence when I joined the Sleeman team and an opportunity to bring my wealth of experience here, especially because there was already a great can-do attitude amongst the Sleeman team.

Tell us about what your team works on?

I lead a very large team of about 800 employees in logistics, operations, and procurement. As a national brewer, Sleeman has facilities across Canada that include four breweries and 11 warehouse and distribution centres.

My team is responsible for a range of work, which includes the following:

  • Forecasting consumer demand
  • Planning production and maintaining inventory levels
  • Procurement of all ingredients and packaging materials
  • Brewing the beer, packaging the beer, and delivering the beer to our customers
  • Providing support in areas of maintenance, engineering, health and safety, environment, and quality

Why do you think it’s exciting to be part of your team?

There are so many areas and opportunities to make a difference. At Sleeman, we provide our team members with the right resources so they can address challenges, solve problems, and grow in their careers.. Every single role is important and can have a meaningful impact on our success.

How would you describe the culture at Sleeman?

We have an open culture which is focused on continuous improvement and collaboration. In my personal experience, there are very few problems solved in isolation. We strive to remove barriers between departments and levels in the organization. If you have a question for a VP or for a warehouse operator, our culture is simple: you go and ask. We are all working together towards a common goal.

Why should people want to join Sleeman and who do you think succeeds here?

If you’re passionate about beer, enjoy working in a collaborative environment, and are driven to continuously improve then you’ll really enjoy working here! You should think about joining the Sleeman team if you want to achieve great results both on your own and collectively through others.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, Dave!

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