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Company wins 'best in Canada' award.

By Len Kruzenga

Widerspeaker Contributor

FLIN FLON, Man.

Arctic Beverages, an Aboriginal-owned bottler of Pepsi-Cola products, has scored a major coup by winning the Best Canadian Bottler Award for 1999 and runner-up as the best North American bottler.

"We were thrilled, of course," said Arctic Beverages general manager Sean Post. "It says a lot about our people, employees and ownership to think that we are the best in the country and the second-best on the continent."

But awards are nothing new for this aggressive Manitoba company owned by Tribal Council Investment Group, a company founded by Manitoba's seven regional tribal councils.

In 1998 the company won the runner-up award for Canadian Pepsi- Cola bottlers, and, since its inception in 1991, has shown remarkable growth, including five years of consecutive 20 per cent sales increases.

Arctic Beverages' community involvement has also caught the attention of Pepsi-Cola Canada and its parent U.S. company. The ownership by the seven regional tribal councils, in effect, means that its membership, comprised of 55 First Nations across the province, represents 92,000 First Nations members, giving rise to a tremendous pride of ownership in each community.

In fact, Arctic Beverages is the only Pepsi-Cola bottler in the world owned by Aboriginal people.

Tribal Council Investment Group was formed more than a decade ago in order to seek out strategic investment opportunities in the mainstream economy to provide solid returns to create further economic development opportunities for the province's First Nations people.

What makes the success of Arctic Beverages so remarkable is the fact that when the company was first acquired by the tribal group, its market was restricted to northern Manitoba and a small area of Saskatchewan.

However, a year later, the company was given the right to expand its territory into the Northwest Territories. Two years later it was awarded northern Saskatchewan and is now developing the northern portion of north-western Ontario.

As a result of this bold expansion, Arctic is now responsible for selling Pepsi, 7Up, Hires, Schweppes and Crush soft drinks, as well as a full range of fruit beverages and bottled water, to the populations of nearly one-quarter of Canada's land mass.

Based in Flin Flon, the company has achieved a remarkable market share that rivals its chief competitor, Coke, according to Post.

Because of its expertise in the north, Post said Arctic can provide a level of service to its customers that others just can't match.

That's borne out by the fact the Aboriginal bottler's customers are overwhelmingly comprised of independent retailers.

With more than 30 people on staff, Arctic Beverages, with the progressive backing of Tribal Council Investment Group, has a future that appears to hold the promise of more awards and continued pride of ownership by the province's First Nations.
COPYRIGHT 1999 Aboriginal Multi-Media Society of Alberta (AMMSA)
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1999 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Kruzenga, Len
Publication:Wind Speaker
Date:May 1, 1999
Words:462
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