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Bottling bonanza.

Success in the soft-drink trade

If your people like the product, why not buy the company? That's how Arctic Beverages Group, of Flin Flon, became one of Manitoba's largest, thriving native-owned businesses.

Two years ago, a syndicate of 58 Indian bands in Manitoba, known as The Tribal Councils Investment Group of Manitoba Ltd., bought the 50-year-old soft drink bottling licensed franchise.

Since then the company, which bottles and distributes Pepsi Cola, 7-Up, Schweppes, Crush and Dr. Pepper under licence, has outperformed its expectations. Market share and profits are far higher than expected in the face of soft markets for bottlers all over North America. Arctic Beverages' drinks are sold throughout Manitoba -- north of the 53rd parallel -- northeastern Saskatchewan, and the central Northwest Territories. Aboriginal and Inuit customers consume 80 per cent of the Arctic product.

Marv Tiller, president and CEO of the company, says the consumer profile was one of the reasons the native investment group decided to buy the bottling firm. Other reasons included the fact it was not competing with local native bands and it seemed like a sure bet. "TCIG looks to take investment in the mainstream economy for the long-haul," says Tiller. "It's a very conservative company and looks for positions of low risk, especially in the service sector, food and beverage, light manufacturing and hotels." Arctic Beverages was an "ideal fit" for the investment strategy of TCIG.

Tiller describes Arctic as "a leading-edge company for the aboriginal community."
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Title Annotation:Native Entrepreneurs; success in the softdrink trade
Publication:Manitoba Business
Date:Jul 1, 1993
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