Chris Peacock is reimagining the way people work.
It involves beer, an Airstream trailer and a pink Trans-Am.
The former comes from the brewery, Brave Brewing Co., the tech entrepreneur has launched on Port Moody’s Brewers Row, a rebrand of the former Bakery Brewing. The latter reside in a nondescript cinder block warehouse building on Murray Street, next to Inlet Field, that he’s converted into a coworking and event space.
Both are about forging connections and building community, Peacock said, elements of day-to-day life that were challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic and are now fighting to come back but in new and innovative ways.
Building a startup
During his years working with the tech start-up Traction on Demand, that was founded in Port Moody by Greg Malpass back in 2007, Peacock saw the company’s workforce grow from a dozen to more than a thousand, straining its abilities to keep employees connected and invested in each other’s success as they worked from different locations. The pandemic scattered them even further, as everyone hunkered down at home, seeing their colleagues only through the safety of their computer screens.
As public health concerns eased and people started venturing out again, they weren’t scheduling meetings for the office; they were getting together at coffee shops and craft breweries to brainstorm and collaborate. Traction on Demand even formalized the new reality by making agreements with some of their impromptu workplaces like Patina Brewing in Port Coquitlam, House of Funk Brewing in North Vancouver and Vancouver’s Brewhall.
Getting the job done at breweries
The arrangements seemed to work. The breweries got customers for beer and food during otherwise slow daytime hours. The company benefitted by easing the pressure to find real estate that could accommodate its growing workforce. And the employees thrived in the informal environments that allowed them to better connect with each other professionally and socially at hours and locations that fit with their lifestyles.
“Beer has always been part of our culture,” Peacock said.
So when Traction on Demand was acquired earlier this year by one of its consulting partners, Salesforce Professional Services, Peacock saw an opportunity to kick the new workplace reality.
Rather than having employees meet at craft breweries all over Metro Vancouver, why not build one they could call their own during the day, then become a gathering place for the community in the evenings and on weekends?
Building a brewery
Peacock hired a brewer and started acquiring equipment in anticipation of building a brewery from scratch in a warehouse space he was eyeing on Murray Street, just a little east of the existing Brewers Row.
Then serendipity stepped in.
Through connections, Peacock heard the owners of Bakery Brewing were looking to get out of the business.
Acquiring an established brewery “allowed us to accelerate our plan,” Peacock said.
A change of plans
But what to do with the warehouse space?
Just as so many tech workers were adrift in the new post-pandemic workplace reality, so were workers in many other sectors like real estate. At the same time, arts, culture and non-profit groups face a perpetual struggle to find cost-effective places they can alight for one-off events or gatherings.
And so, Site B Community was born.
The lofted two-storey space features a mezzanine of desks, meeting rooms and even three personal self-contained private meeting pods overlooking an expansive open space populated with large community tables for gatherings or even group lunches, as well as the Airstream trailer that’s been outfitted as a quiet area and the hot pink Pontiac that’s a holdover from some of the crazier adventures of Traction on Demand’s early days.
“A blank pallet”
Peacock said Site B can be anything its members and drop-in users want it to be. In fact, he uses their feedback to inform decisions that help build out the space.
“It’s kind of a blank pallet,” he said. “Their own vision gets implanted.”
A pair of paddle boards hang on a wall because some members like to recharge by going out for a paddle on the nearby Burrard Inlet. Garden chairs can be transported to Rocky Point Park for outdoor gatherings. A rack outside of e-bikes supplied in a pilot bikeshare project by BCAA allow them to scoot down the street for a beer.
After hours and on weekends, the space is available to users like arts groups and non-profits for events or meetings. It’s hosting weekly salsa dance nights and a group of disc golfers recently conducted an indoor putting clinic.
“It’s a new use of idle space,” Peacock said, adding if the pandemic exposed the fragility of community, it also provided opportunity to reinvent the way it’s created by building environments that bring together people’s professional, personal and social lives in fun, imaginative ways.
“You need to create spaces for people to do more than just work,” he said. “It’s more responsible, sustainable and better for building community.”
And, oh yeah, Site B members also get a discount at the brewery.
• Site B Community is at 3012 Murray St. Brave Brewing Co. is located at 2617 Murray St. Its website is brave.beer.