Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay brewery launches in-house day care for staff

A Thunder Bay business has brewed up a unique way to help staff struggling to get childcare during the pandemic.

Initiative designed to ease stress on employees having trouble finding childcare during pandemic

Thunder Bay's Sleeping Giant Brewery has launched a new daycare service to look after the children of employees during the pandemic. (Sleeping Giant Brewing Company/Provided)

A Thunder Bay business has brewed up a unique way to help staff struggling to get childcare during the pandemic.

Sleeping Giant Brewing Company (SGBC) has launched its own in-house daycare, providing supervision for the children of employees in the company's event space.

Thunder Bay's Sleeping Giant Brewing Company sets up in-house daycare

3 years ago
Duration 2:31
When owners of the Thunder Bay craft beer maker, Sleeping Giant Brewing Company, heard their employees were having trouble finding daycare, they came up with an innovative solution. They opened a daycare in a part of the brewery that is usually used for community events but is closed because of COVID-19 restrictions.

"In our brewery, you know, we're constantly trying to listen to each other as best we can, especially during COVID-19, and all the different experiences everyone's having," said Andrea Mulligan, co-owner of SGBC. "It just started to come up on a regular basis, issues with child care, peoples' ability to work, their partner's ability to work."

So, the Mulligan and her husband — SGBC co-owner and head brewer Kyle Mulligan — talked it over and decided they would set up a daycare for employees in the brewery.

The daycare has been set up in an event space inside SGBC's Barrel House, which is located near the brewery's main building, Mulligan said.

The service is opening as an unlicensed daycare to start and can currently accommodate five children, SBGC said. But the plan is to expand it so it can handle more than the child care needs of SGBC employees.

"It's extremely important," said Avery Henderson, SGBC head brewer. "We were getting to the point, my wife and I, where we just didn't have any more options."

Sleeping Giant Brewing Company's new daycare is located in the company's Barrel House, which is close to the brewery's main building. (Sleeping Giant Brewing Company/Provided)

"So, to have something pop up … two doors down is incredible," he said. "The alternative was, essentially, me giving up my job for a short while, as my wife is expecting our second child, so she needs employment insurance hours for maternity leave."

Henderson said he and his wife had been relying on their parents to care for their daughter, but that isn't a long-term solution.

"When we started looking at daycares, which was before the pandemic hit, there was a wait list of hundreds of kids," he said. "The pandemic hit, and things just got worse, so we didn't really know where to go from there."

"It was a little too good to be true when the idea was first pitched to me, but Andrea pulled a daycare together in less than a month and it's very high-quality," Henderson said. "The two professionals that she hired are fantastic, and it just took off a lot of stress."