New Uses for Old Places

Iceberg Vodka

How does a growing, innovative company select where to settle down? Often the answer comes from a consideration of specifically place-based possibilities, coupled with a unique location that helps develop the authentic brand associated with their product.

In January 2013, Iceberg Vodka began housing a bottle-manufacturing facility in the restored Fishermen’s Union Trading Company building in Port Union, Newfoundland. The company draws its name from the source of water for its vodka, harvested from the icebergs that float through Newfoundland’s Iceberg Alley each spring. While the bottle manufacturing facility cements the company’s presence in the town, Iceberg had already established itself in the region: the company vessel is moored in Port Union, and the ice is melted and stored in the company’s Port Union facility.

Fishmens Union Building

The reuse of the historic building was key to expanding business in the region. The original building housed the retail, wholesale and salt fish operations of the FUTC. Destroyed by fire in 1945 and rebuilt a year later, it continued to serve as the union headquarters until the 1970s. With the decline of the traditional fishery industry in the 1990s, much of the infrastructure of the industry was also facing decline.

But in 2009, the Coaker Foundation acquired the building with the aim of restoration and reuse. The Foundation and Iceberg Vodka shared the priorities of a functional, adaptable space for the company, which retained the heritage features that originally made the building a substantial draw.