The origin of the MERIT name is almost 100 years in the making and its story actually starts in Nanaimo, BC where Chanan and Charan Sandhu, my grandparents, started Merit Furniture. My grandfather, 96 now, still runs 5 stores on Vancouver Island and still goes into work 7 days a week. I could talk about their story for hours (it involves accidentally shipping things illegally overseas, selling so many TVs door to door that they won a Cadillac, and more…). If you want to hear the whole story, ask me over a pint when we open, but for now, the short version….
My grandparents opened furniture stores (at one point over 20 of them), not to build a furniture empire, but to provide others from our family village in India with the opportunity to build a life in Canada. With each store opening, new Canadians were created. As they arrived, they were housed, clothed, and fed by my grandparents until they could get on their own feet. Communities were built around these stores. Communities that still exist today – from Prince George to Vancouver to Campbell River. The impact of their work will be felt by generations.
Their endeavours cemented the idea in my head and heart that the best businesses have a purpose – not just to sell you something, but to be focused on a greater goal… to work towards making a larger impact on a community.
Is creating a business with the goal of having an impact outside of your four walls ambitious? Maybe. Do we know what our purpose is and how things will look years from now? Not exactly. But we’re in Hamilton, a city full of ambitious people. Hamilton… a city that understands merit.
Hamiltonians know what is special about this city. We’re people that are willing to work to make our city better. When we see a neighbour that is making an effort to improve our city, we drop what we’re doing to help and support them. This city’s renaissance has been spurred by those who want to make this city great. We see the potential and what we want at the end of the day is for the city be recognized for its merits, not for the glitz and glamour, not for surface level attractions, but for the heart and soul of the people and businesses that make it a special place to live and work.
Purpose is also what makes the craft beer industry a beautiful thing. Every day, we work to create art in a glass. We experiment, working to expand the perception of what beer is… we sure aren’t just making fizzy yellow water over here. We also aren’t just trying to be different just to be different. To us, the merit of originality is sincerity, not novelty. What we are creating is something that doesn’t need a million-dollar ad campaign to sell it. What we have is something that people in cities large and small across the country work hard to create that is worth the attention of the consumer – a product that sells based on merit.
Many will see the name MERIT as just that, a name. For us, just as Hamilton was the only place we considered opening a brewery, MERIT was the only name for the business, the family, and the community we hope to grow on James Street North.
— Tej Jordan Sandhu, MERIT Brewing Company