Special Project

Case Study
Wild Life Distillery

Special Project

Case Study
Wild Life Distillery

CASE STUDY: How Wild Life Distillery Increased Production Capacity Tenfold with ACS

Wild Life Distillery logo
Case Study - Wild Life Distillery - Canmore, Alberta 2

Photo: Silckerodt Photography

Dedicated to growth

Wild Life Distillery co-founders Keith Robinson and Matt Widmer are committed to continuous improvement, both in their lives and in the craft of distilling. This means great attention to detail is present in all of their processes—which holds true for the construction of their new building as well.

A solid partnership

Having worked with Ashton Construction Services (ACS) to design and build their first distillery location in 2016, Matt and Keith knew the firm could swiftly execute a complex new distillery design-build. “We couldn’t have been happier with the results of the first project,” Keith says. “ACS works hard to create schedules and construction budgets that fit with our needs.”

Entering new territory

ACS has now finished constructing Wild Life’s new distillery, a complex project requiring out-of-the-box thinking. It’s also a big step forward for the brand. “The new building will help us share our products nationally and internationally,” Keith says.

AT A GLANCE

  • 2 completed design-build finished on time and on budget
  • 10x the production capacity of the original facility
  • 7-year working relationship and counting

“We trust Ashton Construction Services, and we knew they’d have the jets to get the project done. We didn’t think of anyone else to work with on this project.”

Keith Robinson, Co-Founder,
Wild Life Distillery

Case Study - Wild Life Distillery - Canmore, Alberta 3

Photo: Silckerodt Photography

A commitment to vision

Wild Life Distillery co-founders Keith Robinson and Matt Widmer were both born and raised in the Bow Valley. When their shared interest in distilling sparked an idea to open a craft distillery, they knew they wanted it to be close to home.

So, Matt and Keith got serious about their entrepreneurial dream and opened Wild Life Distillery in January 2017. Six years later, they have a busy production facility and tasting room, a team of 10 full-time staff, and their products can be found in 450 liquor stores and restaurants across Alberta. And now, they’ve finished construction on a second location.

A high hazard industrial design-build

When Keith and Matt leased the space for their original location (which they fondly refer to as Wild Life 1.0), they were working with a blank canvas—and a small floor plan of 1,400 square feet.

“We needed to figure out how to build a distillery, which is classified as a high hazard industrial space, due to working with combustible materials like ethanol.” Keith says. “There are challenges with fire codes and building codes.”

Keith had worked in the construction industry, so he knew what kind of expertise to look for to get the project completed. He started to call around and connected with Ashton Construction Services (ACS).

“I didn’t shop around after that. I was confident they could complete the project,” Keith says.

Wild Life Distillery - Canmore Alberta - Co-Founders - Black and White Photography

Photo: Black & White Photography

Together with a Vancouver-based distillery consultancy, ACS helped Keith and Matt work with the Town of Canmore to ensure the building met fire code regulations. ACS oversaw the full design and build of the project, which included a raised floor, boiler system, HVAC system, fire alarm, and electrical system. ACS also coordinated with numerous local contractors to bring the building to life.

“Throughout each phase of the project, ACS’ work was high quality,” Keith says. “Their attention to detail, level of service, and commitment to our project was outstanding. The job was well planned and executed, and came to completion on time and under budget.”

Case Study - Wild Life Distillery - Canmore, Alberta 1

Having worked with ACS before, Keith was confident that the firm could complete the project efficiently and on budget. He also knew ACS would be an excellent champion to have on-side working with the Town of Canmore and other contractors, due to its strong network of high-quality local trades partners.

“It’s so worth it to know you have someone standing up for you and making sure that the quotes you’re getting from sub-trades are honest,” Keith says.

Wild Life Distillery - Canmore Alberta - Co-Founders by Black and White Photography

Photo: Black & White Photography

Reengaging a trustworthy, expert partner

Fast forward a few years, and Wild Life Distillery was ready to take the next step into a larger production space. It was time to call on a construction management firm again.

“Trying to find the right building in Canmore is a challenge. In March 2021 when a commercial realtor contacted us with an opportunity, we knew we had to jump on it, and we started to have conversations with ACS,” Keith says.

Choosing to work with ACS on a second build was a no-brainer for Wild Life Distillery.

“The equipment and systems you have to implement in a distillery are very unique. It’s not a commercial retail space,” Keith says. “To try and take that on alone is a heavy lift.”

A new facility to 10x production

Construction of Wild Life Distillery’s second location (Wild Life 2.0) in an existing building started in 2022, and finished in 2023, with ACS leading the entire design and build. At 6,000 square feet, the new space has a much larger footprint than Wild Life 1.0, and will have 10 times the production capacity of the old facility.

The project scope included installing numerous safety features such as a masonry firewall; improved water service to the building, a new fire sprinkler, fire alarm system, and life safety system; a new fire door and exterior overhead doors; and new process water and domestic water systems.

It also involved constructing new washrooms and a fire-rated boiler and mechanical room, installing new floor coatings, upgrading the power distribution, and building and supporting the commissioning of the brewery and distillery equipment.

Wild Life Distillery 2.0 - Canmore Alberta - Co-Founders - Black and White Photography

Photo: Black & White Photography

“With ACS at the helm, our team was able to focus on producing our products and running our business instead of having to be pulled into the construction,” Keith says.

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Photo: Silckerodt Photography

Global ambitions

Wild Life 2.0 was completed on time and on budget. Staying true to its brand promise, ACS ensured Keith was up to date on all developments of the project every step of the way.

The firm managed all supply chain and manpower issues, which are all too common in today’s difficult market, following through to meet Wild Life Distillery’s expectations.

“We’re excited to bring people through, show them the new space, and bring them on tours,” Keith says. “We’re going to have the ability to be a lot more efficient and share our brand beyond Alberta with the new production capacity.”

Case study by Scribe National

Wild Life Distillery in Canmore Alberta - Co-Founders - Black and White Photography

Photo: Black & White Photography

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