It may surprise some to know that the president of The Beer Store grew up in Sudbury, and paid his way through Laurentian University by working part-time at a local Beer Store.
Ted Moroz returns to his alma mater Thursday evening to speak about his own career, and The Beer Store's role as a corporate citizen, during a talk at the Fraser Building's Alumni Hall at 5 p.m.
Moroz graduated from Laurentian with a bachelor of political science, and went on to complete his master's in the same field at Ottawa's Carleton University.
When he graduated in 1988 he wanted to go on to do an MBA part-time, and find a job on Parliament Hill to help cover his schooling.
But that proved to be difficult.
“The economy was in very poor condition and jobs were very hard to come by,” he said.
Moroz had six years of part-time experience with The Beer Store at that point, and decided he had nothing to lose by applying for a job at the Toronto head office.
He started as a management trainee, and worked his way up the chain from there.
“I was definitely ambitious and interested in learning more and doing more,” Moroz said.
In 1994, he returned to Sudbury, where he accepted a human resources job with The Beer Store that covered all of Northern Ontario.
“That was just awesome, to get back to my roots,” he said.
Over the next decade he moved on to a number of senior management positions, and in 2009 became president of The Beer Store.
Moroz said he took over the top job at an interesting and exciting time for the industry.
In early 2015, in the wake of allegations from the Toronto Star that the Beer Store had maintained a monopoly on private beer sales in the province through backroom dealings and fundraising with all major political parties in the province, The Beer Store opened up its ownership structure.
Before 2015, The Beer Store was owned by three large multinational corporations – Labatt Brewing Company (AB InBev), Molson Coors Brewing Company and Sleeman Breweries (Sapporo).
On Jan. 7, 2015, the company announced it would make it easier for small brewers to list their products in its more than 450 stores across the province, and would give them an opportunity to buy new preferred shares in the company.
Today, 25 Ontario brewers owned preferred shares in The Beer Store, Moroz said.
With last year's changes, small brewers were able to list two of their products at five Beer Store locations near them at no cost.
Previously, brewers had to pay an initial fee of $2,880 to list their brands, and an additional $230 for every store that carries their beer.
Sudbury's own Stack Brewing took advantage of those changes when it announced earlier this month local Beer Store locations would carry its products.
“We're really pleased to have Stack Brewing at The Beer Store,” Moroz said. “It just adds to the wonderful selection we have.”
That selection includes 500 brands from around 100 brewers, he said.
The other big change for The Beer Store was the announcement last year the province would allow beer to be sold in Ontario grocery stores.
Ontario plans to have up to 150 stores with beer on their shelves by May 2017.
Sudbury's two Walmart locations made the initial cut of 58 retailers that would carry beer by mid-2016.
But Moroz said more retail competition won't affect beer prices in Ontario.
At The Beer Store, at least, it is the brewers that set the prices for their products, and Ontario is limited by higher commodity taxes than some surrounding jurisdictions.
“The commodity taxes in Ontario on beer are 30 times higher than they are in neighbouring states like New York and Michigan,” Moroz said.
Despite the high taxes on beer, Moroz added Ontario has some of the most competitive beer prices in Canada.
As for his talk Thursday, he said he is excited to reach out to post-secondary students and share his own story with them.
“I see this as an opportunity to speak with the students, and I can't wait to do that,” he said. “Our company is a very large employer of post-secondary students, because we're busy when they're not.”