No Sands Beer For Six Months


Tribune Business Editor


Bahamians will be unable to drink Sands Beer and its fellow beverages for six months after its Freeport-based producer “took a hell of a hit” from Hurricane Dorian’s storm surge.

Jimmy Sands, the Bahamian Brewery and Beverage Company’s founder, yesterday told Tribune Business that the manufacturer/distributor was likely to “be out of commission” for half a year after four feet of flood water penetrated its buildings and destroyed all its electrical machinery, finished product and ingredients in inventory.

Revealing that it was impossible to “sugarcoat” the damage, which is “substantial” and likely to run into the millions of dollars, Mr Sands pledged to “do my damnedest” and “everything in my power” to retain his 60 brewery staff and keep them employed.

Voicing optimism that the Sands producer will be able to rebuild, he conceded that recovery will “be a long haul” but said himself, fellow shareholders and management “had nothing before” when they launched the Bahamian Brewery and Beverage Company just 12 years ago.

Mr Sands added that the brewery had been constructed some six-and-a-half feet above ground level to prevent flooding associated with hurricanes, but it was no match for “the perfect storm” that Dorian proved to be.

“We took a hell of a hit, with three-and-a-half to four feet of water through the brewery,” he told Tribune Business. “That hi-tech machinery doesn’t go together well with four feet of sea water so, as a result, we’re going to be out of commission for some time.

“I think we’ll be out, me speaking as a layman, at least six months. A lot of the machines are out. They’re only good for crawfish now. There was a tremendous amount of electrical equipment and all that takes time to put back together. I wish I could sugarcoat it another way but that’s how it is. It’s terrible. It was a disaster.”

Mr Sands said the Bahamian Brewery and Beverage Company was “very fortunate” to have been fully insured, and he had been informed by loss adjusters that they were supposed to visit the property today to conduct a damage assessment and begin the claims process.

“I’m damn lucky to have insurance,” he added, “but when you have this sort of thing it far exceeds the claim. We took another very big hit in inventory. All the pallets toppled down all over the place because of the water.

“It is all over the ground; finished product, imported goods. Everything came down, whether rum, gin, whiskey and finished product. With four feet of water inside a warehouse, things don’t stand up any more. The boxes at the bottom became wet and couldn’t stand up, and the pallets came crashing down.

“We had three people at the brewery during Dorian. The first half of the storm, I said: ‘Man, we’ve dodged a bullet’. The second half of the storm, when I called in, they said: ‘Jimmy, the water’s inside the place’. We have a bar upstairs, and they took refuge in the bar,” Mr Sands continued.

“We raised that whole brewery six-and-a-half feet, put a tremendous amount of fill in there in anticipation of this sort of thing happening, but this was the perfect storm. It was far greater than anyone every anticipated.”

Besides the brewery’s machinery and warehoused product, Dorian’s floodwaters have also knocked out its reverse osmosis plant and key inventory ingredients such as hops, sugar and yeast. Salvage and clean-up efforts were underway at the property yesterday, while its technical advisers from Hamburg, Germany, have already arrived to assess and inspect the damaged machinery.

Mr Sands promised to to everything to retain the brewery’s current 60-strong workforce, telling Tribune Business: “I’m going to do my damnedest to keep them on because they’re a good crew and there is a lot of work to do here. I’ll do everything in my power to keep them on because they’re a good bunch of people.”

The Bahamian Brewery and Beverage Company’s Dorian-related woes also extent to Abaco, where the Category Five storm’s winds and storm surges wiped out the company’s sole retail store on the island. “To put it bluntly, there’s nothing left,” Mr Sands confirmed.

Yet he remains determined to rebuild despite the devastation, adding that the support of the wider community and the Government was key to a rebuilding process he and fellow shareholders are already committed to.

“If everybody pitches in I feel confident it can be done,” Mr Sands told Tribune Business. “It’s going to be a long, hard road, but I feel confident it can be done. We’ve come this far already when we had nothing before, and at least we have something to build it back on.

“It’s not our first walk in the park. This is going to be a hard one, but we’ll get the job done. We just have to start again. You know what my dad told me many years ago? He said; ‘Son, anyone can quit, but it takes a good person to go ahead. I remember that many, many times.

“My dad was a strong guy. I just hope I have a little piece of what he had. He came up the hard way, and I don’t want to do that, but I don’t have a choice. It will be a tough one but we’ll make it. We have to start again, rebuild and go again. We cannot give up. It’s a part of the community.”

The Bahamian Brewery and Beverage Company has carved out a strong niche in this nation’s liquor manufacturing, distribution and retail market since its founding in 2007.

It has been able to establish itself despite having to contend with the competitive challenge posed by BISX-listed Commonwealth Brewery, which is backed by 75 percent majority owner, Heineken, the global beverage giant.

Besides its Sands Beer staple, the Grand Bahama-based brewery also produces brands such as Sands Light, Strong Back Stout, High Rock Lager, Bush Crack Beer, Triple B Malt and Sands Passion Radler. It recently moved to an expanded three-acre warehouse and office complex in Nassau’s Airport Industrial Park to serve its continued growth on New Providence.

The Bahamian Brewery and Beverage Company scored a major victory in 2015 when it won the Bahamian distribution contract for Budweiser and all brands produced by Anheuser-Busch from Commonwealth Brewery.


B_I_D___ 1 week, 3 days ago

Rebuild bigger, badder and stronger...and HIGHER...LOL!! I sense a limited edition crafty beer in the near future!!


TalRussell 1 week, 2 days ago

Likes every time Comrade Minister Finance "KP" did his arithmetic before Hurricane Dorian - he got his numbers wrong in projecting the post Hurricane Dorian rebuilding costs Out Islands combined could reach $100 million, yes, no .... the bad news for "KP" Member of Parliament for East Grand Bahamaland, is that the $100 million mark may not even cover rebuilding costs colony's island of Grand Bahamaland .... The colony deserves Minister Finance with at least having obtained bare minimum passing grade in arithmetic during his High School learning ....


Well_mudda_take_sic 1 week, 2 days ago

Just more of the many VAT dollars gone....possibly forevermore.


ThisIsOurs 1 week, 1 day ago

You know we have truly suffered terribly from the crony culture. And I'm talking about decades of appointing unqualified persons to senior ranks.

The need for insecure politicians to put their friends and people who will agree with them into positions of power. It is only in times of crisis when the true incompetence is revealed. look at all the nicely pressed persons standing behind the PM who couldn't put together an effective plan for an Irma/Matthew/Joaquin style disaster in 2 years. Minnis response as per usual is "well noone here smart enough, we need white people to lead".

And of course people will say now is not the time to talk about it. When is the time? Six months/a year after the election it was too early to talk about their inability to plan.

A day after Dorian it was too late.


Well_mudda_take_sic 1 week ago

The writing was on the wall for the more populated northern Bahamas receiving a category 5+ direct hurricane hit as far back as 2004 when Hurricane Ivan literally destroyed the Cayman Islands. But our successive PLP and FNM governments did nada.....as usual our corrupt politicians at the highest levels were just too pre-occupied with one-upmanship theatrics while they were laser focused on unjustly amassing great wealth for themselves and their family members, and their select few cronies and friends, all at the expense of the vast majority of the Bahamian people. Meanwhile our corrupt political leaders have always turned a complete blind eye to the Haitianization of our country.


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