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Meet Specific Mechanical Systems

Specific Mechanical Systems is a stainless steel and copper fabricator of quality brewing systems. The Central Saanich-based company is active internationally in craft brewing and craft distilling as well as industrial sectors such as oil and gas, dairy, waste water treatment, pulp and paper, food processing and pharmaceuticals.
Specific Mechanical is a one-of-a-kind for Vancouver Island and have fabricated and delivered equipment and services to most—if not all—of the local brewery-related establishments. In 2015, Specific Mechanical won The Chamber’s Business of the Year award for the over 76 employee category.

For this edition’s profile, we interviewed Specific Mechanical’s general manager, Reo Phillips.

How would you describe Specific Mechanical?

Specific Mechanical is recognized as a world leader in the craft brewing industry. We make everything from brewing-equipment, fermenters and bright tanks to complete brew houses and all the accessories required in-between.

How would you describe Greater Victoria’s manufacturing industry? 

The Greater Victoria area is well-suited for manufacturing companies such as ours, as not only do we have a great local customer base for our products, we also have excellent local talent available from the college and universities. We are very well connected to the trades industry, which helps us find local employees who are looking for full-time, long-term employment. With the consistency of the flourishing craft beer and distilling markets globally, we are avoiding the dramatic fluctuations and downsizing that has been experienced in other manufacturing industries and regions in Canada. 

What is the best thing Specific Mechanical is doing for Greater Victoria?

Along with supporting the growth of the established craft beer sector and emerging craft distilling, Specific Mechanical has a direct impact on Greater Victoria’s economy by employing local, buying local, and supporting production of goods that are local. Further, Specific Mechanical is an economic driver—each of our sales outside the region brings money into Greater Victoria, contributing to the sale and resale of local goods and services.

What is the best part about doing business in Greater Victoria?

Being involved in the craft beer and spirits industry tends to be more fun than most. Our customers vary from all walks of life and backgrounds, but share a trait that is rarely found—each and every one is passionate about beer and spirits, and about ensuring a wonderful and unique experience for the consumer.  

"Industry statistics indicate that the Lower Vancouver Island manufacturing sector consists of approximately 120 companies. Half of these companies reside in the Peninsula, employing thousands of people and generating hundreds of millions in revenue," said John Juricic, executive director of Sidney North Saanich Industrial Group as well as CEO of Harbour Digital Media. "An industry leader within this sector is Specific Mechanical off of Keating Cross Road, who represents the very best of local manufacturing innovation and productivity."

What is it like working at Specific Mechanical?

Over the past five years, Specific Mechanical has grown from 45 employees to over 100. The majority of our employees are engineers and skilled trades, many of whom graduated from University of Victoria and Camosun College programs. We focus on hiring the best of the best.

Specific Mechanical provides bursaries to pursue training, encourages advancement within the company, and ensures employees understand and realize the direct impact they have on the products and the company’s success. Through weekly huddles and quarterly all-hands meetings, Specific Mechanical’s leadership shares business results, celebrates successes, and gathers employee feedback on new policies and initiatives.

“People are the heart and soul of any company,” said Sean Hoyne of Hoyne Brewing Company, who purchased a complete brew house from Specific Mechanical in 2014. “Right from their sales team to their front office, to their engineers and their fine crew of very talented craftsmen building the equipment, I have always been very impressed with how friendly and professional they all are.”

What is Specific Mechanical proudest of?  

Specific Mechanical is proud to have been part of Victoria’s pioneering local craft and micro-brewing sector, helping to put Greater Victoria’s award-winning craft beer on the map, not just within B.C., but across Canada.  

The Future  

Similar to what we saw in the craft beer brewing industry over the last 10 to 15 years, spirits are next. They are high quality, made locally and desired globally. Everything we need is here in Victoria—good barley, grains, fruits, passionate people, good equipment and deep expertise. Craft spirits appear to be following the eat organic and buy farm fresh movement, a trend based on caring about what we are eating and drinking and connecting with our local supplier and producer. 

Specific Mechanical’s latest offering for the distillation industry includes a complete copper still distillation package, which includes all of the equipment required to produce spirits such as brandy, gin, whisky, vodka and rum.

Fun Facts:

  • Over the past 30 years, Specific Mechanical has designed, manufactured and sold well over 500 complete brewing systems throughout the world.
  • Specific Mechanical uses over 500 tonnes (1 million pounds) of stainless steel each year.
  • Specific Mechanical has over 3,500 square meters (35,000 square feet) of manufacturing space.
  • Although primarily supplying North American customers, Specific Mechanical has fabricated and shipped systems around the world to unique locations as: Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Guatemala, even a distillery in Ireland!
  • The typical craft brew house can cost anywhere from $30,000 to allow a very basic production of beer to well in excess of $1 million for some of the larger craft brew houses.
  • Some of the most unique and fun pieces of equipment that Specific Mechanical makes are accessories to the brewing process, such as a hops cannon, which uses high pressure gas to literally shoot charges of hops into tanks during the beer fermentation process.
  • Some of the largest pieces of equipment Specific Mechanical makes are stainless steel beer fermentation tanks, some of which hold in excess of 200 barrels, or more than 50,000 pints of beer.

For more information about Specific Mechanical Systems check out their Chamber Directory Listing or their website.


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