Tom Leboe … “Mr. Brewing” and much more
No question, after 48 years with PWB, Tom Leboe has earned the title “Mr. Brewing” in Prince George and, in their quiet way, Tom and wife Jean have come to embody all that is good in the community.
Naturally, Tom refuses to take any credit for the high regard the Leboe name has earned. “It is my beautiful wife who has the heart of gold and the empathy needed to work with all the foster children we have taken in. She really did a good job and she is still doing it."
Over 30 years, the couple has fostered 63 children, mostly special needs. It has been rewarding and heartbreaking but in the end “they were all a real blessing and a special gift from God,” he says.
PWB’s acting plant manager and mentor works three days a week at the brewery, sharing a lifetime of experience with the many long-term employees.
“We are good at what we do and we do it in the backyard of one of the finest communities in this province. Prince George embodies BC’s entrepreneurial spirit. It has forged its identity and purpose from raw material and human grit. It has been the home of brewing for 60 years and Kazuko Komatsu’s singular focus for more than 25 years.”
At age 22, Tom was just passing through Prince George. "I took a brewery job on a whim. I started at the bottom back in 1969 and by 1991 I was the plant manager of Tartan Brewery which became Uncle Ben's and finally Pacific Western Brewery. What I thought was high speed back then is nothing compared to what it is now. Now the production line moves like a bullet producing 500 cans a minute.”
Leboe is still driven by a desire to innovate and the goal of quality brewing. Cariboo Springs Lager is a perfect example, an all-BC beer that is truly “closer to home.”
"It is the Vintners Quality Alliance of beer,” says Leboe, referring to the prized premium designation for BC wines.
"The idea was all Kazuko’s. She wanted a beer made 100 per cent from BC products. Similar to the benefits of BC’s VQA initiative, our farmers can produce ingredients for beer that are among the best in the world. We look forward to working with other BC brewers and with government to replicate that success in the brewing sector,” Leboe says.