Tuesdays at Ten: Black Fly Beverage Company

Black Fly Beverage Company Twitter Avatar
Black Fly Beverage Company
Aug 04, 2015

What better business to talk to on a hot summer day than Black Fly Beverage Company? Founded in 2005 by husband and wife team Rob Kelly & Cathy Siskind-Kelly, Black Fly has been growing their London, Ontario based business for over 10 years. They were granted the first Distillery License in Ontario in over 100 years to craft their signature blended spirit beverages, and did $7.1 million in sales in 2013.

Black Fly believes in finding talent where other companies may not & giving people a chance.

Martin Kamil, Black Fly’s Vice President of Finance and Operations joined us on August 4, 2015 to have a live Twitter conversation about why Black Fly has chosen to employ people with disabilities, some of the initial reservations they had, how they went about overcoming them, and what the outcome has been.

Martin Kamil standing in front of office wall with huge Black Fly logo and packaged Black Fly drinks beside him.
Martin Kamil, VP Finance & Operations Black Fly Beverage Company

Black Fly Beverage Company works with LEADS Employment Services to hire and retain persons with disabilities. We also welcomed Claudette Faulkner, an Employment Specialist from LEADS, to our discussion.

Claudette smiling at the camera.
Claudette Faulkner, Employment Specialist LEADS Employment Services

Twitter Transcript: 

Ability First: We welcome Martin Kamil, VP of Finance & Operations at @BlackFlyBooze to our monthly #Tuesat10 talk this morning. Also joining us is Claudette Faulkner, Employment Specialist with @LEADSEmployment. @BlackFlyBooze works with @LEADSEmployment as their Partner in Employment, which we'll explore in more detail later in the talk. Martin, can you please give us a brief overview of @BlackFlyBooze? #Tuesat10

Black Fly Beverage Company: We were founded by husband and wife team Rob Kelly & Cathy Siskind-Kelly after being awarded the first Distillery License granted in Ontario in over 100 years. @AbilityFirstLdn #Tuesat10

Ability First: That is a pretty amazing piece of Ontario history @BlackFlyBooze has right there! What vision were you founded on? #Tuesat10

Black Fly Beverage Company: To create MORE NATURAL & LESS SWEET premium spirit beverages using quality ingredients & innovative packaging. @AbilityFirstLdn #Tuesat10

Ability First: Congratulations as @BlackFlyBooze has certainly created a strong brand based on this. How long have you been in business? #Tuesat10

Black Fly Beverage Company: We were founded as Ontario's first micro-distillery in 2005 & have been in business for over 10 years now. @AbilityFirstLdn #Tuesat10

Ability First: How many employees does @BlackFlyBooze have at your world headquarters here in #LdnOnt, where your drinks are locally crafted? #Tuesat10

Black Fly Beverage Company: We currently have around 35 employees. @AbilityFirstLdn #Tuesat10

Ability First: Did you have any prior experience working with people with disabilities at @BlackFlyBooze? #Tuesat10

Black Fly Beverage Company: Personally I have not, but I am glad Black Fly decided to partner with @LEADSEmployment to add to our team. @AbilityFirstLdn #Tuesat10

LEADS Employment Services: We were thrilled to form a partnership with @BlackFlyBooze and @LEADSEmployment! @AbilityFirstLdn #Tuesat10

Ability First: What were your initial feelings on bringing someone with a #disability on board at @BlackFlyBooze? #Tuesat10

LEADS Employment Services: Initially I thought it might create issues. @AbilityFirstLdn #Tuesat10

Ability First: Would you mind giving us a couple of examples & the actual outcomes? @BlackFlyBooze #Tuesat10

Black Fly Beverage Company: We thought it would be harder to communicate given this employee is #deaf, but we've had no issues. Also thought might create issues with forklift traffic; sensitized our supervisors & told them to be mindful. @AbilityFirstLdn #Tuesat10

LEADS Employment Services: The minor interview accommodations @BlackFlyBooze made helped this employee to finally get a foot in the door. @AbilityFirstLdn #Tuesat10

Ability First: Your experience really alleviated any concerns going in. How did you go about finding right person for the job at @BlackFlyBooze? #Tuesat10

Black Fly Beverage Company: Our employee found us! @LEADSEmployment approached us and @BlackFlyBooze wanted to do something positive. @AbilityFirstLdn #Tuesat10

LEADS Employment Services: Thanks @BlackFlyBooze for being open to hiring for #abilityfirst!! @AbilityFirstLdn #Tuesat10

Ability First: Beyond wanting to do something positive, why did @BlackFlyBooze ultimately decide to hire someone with a #disability? #Tuesat10

Black Fly Beverage Company: This individual was the most qualified candidate for position we were looking to fill. It was that simple. Plus a very pleasant person in general & presented wonderfully in interview process. We got a good vibe. @AbilityFirstLdn #Tuesat10

Ability First: Can you describe one of the positions filled at @BlackFlyBooze through your partnership with @LEADSEmployment? #Tuesat10

Black Fly Beverage Company: Production Associate is frontline of our manufacturing process. Maintains all aspects of quality control in a fast paced environment. The Production Associate is also a demanding job physically. @AbilityFirstLdn #Tuesat10

Ability First: How has this employee worked out for @BlackFlyBooze? #Tuesat10

Black Fly Beverage Company: Fantastically, but that is hardly a surprise. I knew she would be a fantastic employee. @AbilityFirstLdn #Tuesat10

LEADS Employment Services: We always try to find best candidate for our employers. So glad they're doing fantastic job with @BlackFlyBooze! @AbilityFirstLdn #Tuesat10

Ability First: Were there any preconceptions you had about employing someone with a #disability at @BlackFlyBooze? #Tuesat10

Black Fly Beverage Company: Thought we might have to modify our processes, but didn’t. Simply had to be mindful of few things, nothing major. @AbilityFirstLdn #Tuesat10

Ability First: Would it be fair to say that employing someone with a #disability at @BlackFlyBooze has really altered these preconceptions? #Tuesat10

Black Fly Beverage Company: It certainly has and I look forward to employing more people that have #disabilities in the future. @AbilityFirstLdn #Tuesat10

Ability First: Are there common misconceptions other employers talk about when they learn @BlackFlyBooze employs people with #disabilities? #Tuesat10

Black Fly Beverage Company: I didn't broadcast hiring as didn’t think we were doing anything special by hiring best qualified employee. That being said, everyone that I have talked to about this experience only has positive feedback. @AbilityFirstLdn #Tuesat10

LEADS Employment Services: Our hope at @LEADSEmployment is that more employers recognize these benefits, as you have, @BlackFlyBooze. @AbilityFirstLdn #Tuesat10

Ability First: Connect with @LEADSEmployment & learn more about the free services they offer to assist employers > http://ow.ly/QrPyf. Have you ever faced any of your own barriers to employment Martin? @BlackFlyBooze #Tuesat10

Black Fly Beverage Company: I moved from Montreal to Toronto and a lot of employers were reluctant to hire someone out of province. I remember thinking I just needed one person to give me chance, which someone did. I’m happy to give back today. @AbilityFirstLdn #Tuesat10

Ability First: Do you think this experience has given you a more open outlook on hiring for #AbilityFirst? @BlackFlyBooze #Tuesat10

Black Fly Beverage Company: Yes, I like to take an educated risk when hiring. It's noteworthy to mention the downside risk is fairly low. So really, it’s only upside. @AbilityFirstLdn #Tuesat10

Ability First: How has @LEADSEmployment worked with @BlackFlyBooze as a Partner in Employment? #Tuesat10

Black Fly Beverage Company: @LEADSEmployment is fantastic to work with. They did everything from scheduling interviews to recognizing us in the community. I look forward to working together more in the future with @LEADSEmployment. @AbilityFirstLdn #Tuesat10

LEADS Employment Services: We feel privileged to have chance to work with @BlackFlyBooze & hope to strengthen this relationship further. @AbilityFirstLdn #Tuesat10

Ability First: What is your advice for potential employers? @BlackFlyBooze #Tuesat10

Black Fly Beverage Company: Keep an open mind. Give people a chance to prove their full potential. @AbilityFirstLdn #Tuesat10 #PutTheAbilityFirst

Ability First: Please finish this sentence Martin, “@BlackFlyBooze hires for #AbilityFirst because...” #Tuesat10

Black Fly Beverage Company: Black Fly believes in finding talent where other companies may not & giving people a chance. It makes sense for us. We were introduced to a fantastic employee & have had an impact on someone’s life. @AbilityFirstLdn #Tuesat10

LEADS Employment Services: You’ve certainly changed lives already @BlackFlyBooze. Thank you on their behalves! @AbilityFirstLdn #Tuesat10

Ability First: Martin, thank you for taking time out of your busy day to talk with us about how you #PutTheAbilityFirst at @BlackFlyBooze. #Tuesat10

Black Fly Beverage Company: We do our best to represent community/country we live in. Thank you so much for inviting us to chat w/ you today @AbilityFirstLdn! #Tuesat10

Ability First: Thank you Claudette & @LEADSEmployment for joining us today. We always appreciate you taking part in our employer focused #Tuesat10 series.

LEADS Employment Services: Thanks for allowing @LEADSEmployment to join this exciting conversation also! Thanks @BlackFlyBooze for changing our clients’ lives by simply opening doors. @AbilityFirstLdn #Tuesat10

Ability First: How can you make a difference? Support businesses like @BlackFlyBooze who #PutTheAbilityFirst and create an #inclusive community. #Tuesat10

Martin Kamil, VP Finance & Operations, standing in front of wrapped skids of Black Fly products in the warehouse.
Martin Kamil in the Black Fly Beverage Company warehouse, standing in front of ready to distribute product.

We always appreciate those of you who join us for our live Tuesdays at Ten sessions, and welcome new voices to our discussions. We encourage you to ask questions, share your thoughts, and interact with our presenters. Please mark your calendars for the first Tuesday of every month at 10am as we continue to highlight various local businesses who successfully put ability first in the workplace.

We hope you’ll join us for our next Tuesdays at Ten, taking place on Tuesday September 1, 2015.

To review transcripts from past sessions please visit our Tuesdays at Ten archives.

LEADS Employment Services