Smart Partners

Jason Parkes Customs

These B.C. Winemakers Had Backup While Growing Their Business 

When Jason Parkes entered the wine industry, he was a musician looking for a day job to help fund repairs for his band’s broken vehicle. Some 20 years later the winemaker and his business partner, Graham Dell, run several destinations in the Okanagan, serving up wine, cider, and unique experiences to travellers looking for something a little more approachable and fun.

“We’re trying to create our own little world and having fun with it,” says Jason. “It’s about adding a unique perspective to the B.C. wine industry.” And the partners have done so time and time again with their minimal intervention, old world winemaking available at their spaces, The Hatch, Black Swift Vineyards, Crown & Thieves, and their cidery, Truck 59. They even have a fifth location in the works. Each space has its own distinct personality, but the common theme between the locations is the atmosphere. 

“We try to make it very fun so people are comfortable and not scared to ask questions,” says Jason. “It’s about empowering customers to enjoy wine a little more.”

Part of the enjoyment comes from the great face-to-face customer service provided by each of their locations—which wasn’t always easy to juggle while also answering hundreds of calls a day. That’s where Shaw Business’ SmartVoice helped the team streamline its operations. 

“We field so many phone calls because of tourism,” says Graham, and many callers are seeking the same information regarding hours and locations. “Automated messaging, directing voicemails to the right place—those things are all critical to be able to manage the phone while not ignoring the person in front of you from a customer service aspect.”

We’ve got mobile payment terminals, customers using the WiFi to look at menus on their phones, and we don’t have to worry about it. It just works.

Graham Dell, CFO of Jason Parkes Customs

Caring for customers has always been a top concern for the duo, which only intensified when COVID hit. “We’ve had to adapt our retail set-up to be able to bring our POS system outside,” says Graham. With Shaw Business’ SmartWiFi in all their retail locations, they were able to achieve a smooth transition to help keep their business up and running. “Internet and WiFi are cornerstones to the business,” says Graham. “We’ve got mobile payment terminals, customers using the WiFi to look at menus on their phones, and we don’t have to worry about it. It just works.”

All that additional digital interaction with customers and a push for online sales made security another priority for their team. “Being in retail it’s massively important in terms of customers trusting us with their data,” says Graham. “The security to grow our online business and know it’s protected allows us to operate freely.” 

And with six websites, four locations, 50 staff checking emails and phones, and customers from all over the world logging in, Shaw Business’ SmartSecurity gives Graham and Jason that freedom to focus on wine without having to worry.

And should the unexpected happen, like a rare Internet outage, their Shaw Business LTE Backup allows them to continue with their mission as if nothing happened. “That LTE Backup was a way of getting us up and going,” says Jason. “It looked like we weren’t going to have Internet in the summer at Black Swift, and it was going to cost us a couple hundred thousand dollars. Our account rep at Shaw, Lynn, was absolutely amazing in helping us get the right program in place.”

Two customers stand at a till in front of a shelf full of wine bottles.

That kind of personalized attention and care was one of the reasons Jason Parkes Customs chose Shaw Business in the first place. “The customer service aspect is a big thing,” says Jason. “It’s a testament to Shaw Business and its service and staff.” 

At the end of the day, making and selling great wine and creating unique experiences is where Jason and Graham want to put their energy, and having the right services in place allows them to focus on their passions.

“It’s about having heart behind what you’re doing,” says Jason. “Have confidence in beating your own drum and believe in your own ideas.”