It’s taken nine long years, but the wait has been worth it for a B.C. man with Alberta working roots.
Bryce Shewchuk is the creator of a new, Canadian-made energy drink called High Roller. It can be found in gas stations and food stories in British Columbia and Alberta, albeit not at every one — at least, not yet.
The West Kelowna resident came up with the idea of creating a new energy drink while working as a welder in the oil fields near Fort McMurray, Alta.
In between jobs, Shewchuk would spend his time jotting down what the can would look like, what the drink would taste like and what was needed to get the ball rolling on the business.
“I was literally sitting there, about two in the morning, drinking [an energy drink],” recalled Shewchuk, High Roller’s president and CEO.
“And I really wasn’t impressed with the flavour, along with getting heartburn, so I went online and searched out energy drinks to see what was out there.
“After about 25 minutes, I came across a tiny little shot,” Shewchuk continued. “It caught my eye. It wasn’t the best-looking thing, but I went onto the website and sent an email, asking if I could get some sent to Canada as I’d like to try it.”
One month later, the energy drink arrived. Shewchuk said it wasn’t that good, but that’s “when the lightbulb clicked.”
“That’s when I started thinking I should become a Canadian distributor for someone else’s product,” he said. “The hard work is already done.”
At this moment, Shewchuk looked skyward — looking back, his hard work had yet to begin.
“Little did I know,” he said. “All this stuff had to be done . . . Health Canada compliance, everything in business. Everything was a learning curve. I knew nothing about beverages at that time.”
Shewchuck’s attempt to become a distributor for that product didn’t get off the ground, nor did attempts for two other products. Those efforts took approximately three years.
“I thought: ‘Why are we messing around with somebody else’s product? Why don’t we create our own?’ And that’s when I met my current partner, Dan MacKenzie,” said Shewchuk.
“From there, he came up with the name, High Roller, and we turned it into what it is today. After almost six and a half years of dedication, we came up with this new product and launched on Dec. 6, 2017.”
Shewchuk said the first month was fairly slow, and it took effort to get High Roller into stores, who were skeptical of it, not knowing if it was good or bad.
Now, according to Shewchuk, High Roller is available in more than 500 stores and the business is “growing very rapidly.”
“People have this mentality that things happen overnight; it’s a lottery-ticket mentality,” said Caleb Poulin, High Roller’s director of sales and marketing.
“But it takes time, it takes effort, it takes energy, it takes money invested. And a lot of times, when you start into being a business owner or an entrepreneur, you don’t make anything for the first while.
“With this, we can teach people that it’s going to take time, but if you invest into what you want to go after, it’s only a matter of time before it happens.”
Shewchuk echoed Poulin’s comments about perseverance and hard work.
“If you have a dream, go after it,” he said. “Don’t let anybody tell you no. Look at us: we have almost seven years into this one can alone so it’s pretty crazy what it actually takes to get there, and just never giving up.
“People stopped believing in me when I was telling them we have this drink we’re going to launch. They’d tell me: ‘OK, you’ve been telling me for two years now, three years now, four years, five years.’ And finally, we hit production and we’re putting this stuff out there, and within eight months of production, it’s halfway across Canada and we’re looking at going stateside.”
When Global News first contacted Shewchuk this summer, he was in Vancouver, bottling High Energy. This, after just finishing a stint of working in the oil fields.
“I can’t explain it,” Shewchuk said of his years of effort coming to fruition.
“All the hard work put in and you finally see it and you hold it in your hand. And you just know that it’s going to succeed.”