Bundaberg Brewed Drinks

show­cases what makes them strong for 50 years.

Bundaberg Style - - FRONT PAGE - KIRSTEN WIL­LIAMS

CLIFF Fleming is a hum­ble man, unas­sum­ing and yet ar­tic­u­late and poised.

Traits that have served him well in busi­ness in Bundaberg for the past 50 years.

He has seen Bundaberg change dur­ing that time, from ru­ral farm­lands, pre­dom­i­nantly pro­duc­ing sugar cane, into a di­verse re­gional city that’s thriv­ing on new busi­ness that ex­tends be­yond lo­cal markets.

His be­lief in brew­ing with qual­ity in­gre­di­ents from lo­cal pro­duc­ers to pro­duce the now fa­mous Bundaberg Gin­ger Beer has iden­ti­fied him as one of the new pi­o­neers of busi­ness in the re­gion.

Cliff and his fa­ther bought the al­ready es­tab­lished soft drink com­pany in 1968 and op­er­ated as Elec­tra Brew­eries as a Tarax fran­chise, then a lit­tle later, a Sch­weppes fran­chise.

Many soft drink com­pa­nies early on stopped the man­u­fac­ture of fer­mented prod­ucts in favour of pro­duc­ing essence-based prod­ucts, so he de­cided to work on de­vel­op­ing a con­trolled method of fer­men­ta­tion for his now fa­mous brews, espe­cially gin­ger beer.

It’s this fer­men­ta­tion process that is an in­te­gral part of the Bundaberg brew­ing process and key to pro­duc­ing the rich flavour of each brew.

As Cliff ex­plains: “It’s our point of dif­fer­ence in a mar­ket that be­came one of sup­ply­ing re­frig­er­a­tion and post mix, and we’re proud of it.”

So why Bundaberg?

Dur­ing the early years it was dif­fi­cult to source lo­cal pro­duce with Bundaberg be­ing a pre­dom­i­nantly sugar town but he saw the ben­e­fit of grow­ing lo­cally and Bundaberg pro­vided many op­por­tu­ni­ties for grow­ing and de­vel­op­ing gin­ger. “We’ve made it a gin­ger town,” Cliff said.

“It was busi­ness first, then the gin­ger.

“The de­ci­sion to grow and dry our own gin­ger came about shortly af­ter we pur­chased the com­pany which guar­an­tees us good flavour and con­trol over our hero brew.

“It’s what we are fa­mous for.”

In 1985 sole re­spon­si­bil­ity of the com­pany went to Cliff and his wife Lee.

Cliff be­came chair­man and mas­ter brewer from that point and it was from here that a new era of ex­pan­sion be­gan.

With a change in name to Bundaberg Brewed Drinks, Cliff in­tro­duced new flavours to the range of brews that has re­sulted in ex­po­nen­tial growth of Bundaberg Brews to more than 44 coun­tries glob­ally to date.

This suc­cess stems from Cliff’s be­lief in work­ing hard, and mak­ing the busi­ness work while grad­u­ally grow­ing it to sus­tain more em­ploy­ees.

He at­tributes much of his suc­cess to the ad­vice he re­ceived from his bank man­ager when de­cid­ing to buy the busi­ness, ‘that there is no best busi­ness, but that it was al­ways the best op­er­a­tor of a busi­ness that made the busi­ness a suc­cess.’

‘ It’s our point of dif­fer­ence in a mar­ket that be­came one of sup­ply­ing re­frig­er­a­tion and post mix, and we’re proud of it. — CLIFF FLEMING '

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PHOTO: PAUL BEUTEL

MAK­ING A DIF­FER­ENCE: Bundaberg Brewed Drinks owner Cliff Fleming

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