Former Wheat King now has a 100 million dollar business

We all know the odds of making it to the NHL are like .001 so therefore once you finish playing hockey you need a Plan B, C, or even D.

Daniel Bartek (Olomouc, CZE) was selected in the first round of the CHL import draft by Tri Cities. He was later dealt to Brandon where he would have a decent career. He finished his WHL career with Everett and then went to play CIS Dalhousie (Halifax) for 4 seasons.

If the Brandon Wheat Kings can lay claim to something, in addition to talented hockey players, it is for producing young entrepreneurs. And for a kid from the Czech Republic to not only succeed in North America as a Junior/University player but to move on and step into the beverage and alcohol business that is very impressive.  BDNMB.CA had a chance to talk to Bartek who now calls Toronto home.

Daniel how on earth would you dare to get into such a competitive business?

Like for so many entrepreneurs, I think it’s just part of my DNA. It was my competitive nature that propelled me to leave home at the age of 17 to pursue my hockey dream in North America. The same force set me on the path of creating the next big beverage company. In both instances, I knew all too well the odds were stacked against me but I pushed through anyway. Life is full of risks and challenges but as the famous saying goes, “If you risk nothing, you risk everything.”

Personally I’ve never tried any of your products yet, can they be purchased in Manitoba?

You bet! Our brands are now distributed across all Canadian provinces. In Manitoba, you can currently get a variety of our Cottage Springs Vodka Sodas: Peach, Watermelon and our mixed pack. We also have several great Cottage Springs innovations coming to you in 2022, including our low sugar Vodka Iced Tea, Vodka Lemonade mixed packs, and also our Mango and Raspberry 4L bag in box.

All products will be available at your local MBLL. For availability you can check the MBLL website here:

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Did the education you received while attending Dalhousie University help you in developing your business or does it all come naturally?

To be honest, I wouldn’t have started this business if I didn’t go to school. My decision not to sign a professional contract while competing for a spot within the Rangers organization at the end of my junior career ended up being a great call after all. It allowed me to take full advantage of my WHL scholarship package and inevitably set me on my entrepreneurial path. Being at Dal gave me the opportunity to meet my future business partner Cam McDonald and develop a network of entrepreneurs and friends that I hold dear to this day. However, as far as academics go, you most definitely don’t need go to school to start your business. Aside from a few entrepreneurship classes, I still had to learn how to run a business from scratch. While at Dal, I eventually left school early and finished my degree online in order to fully focus on my start ups at the time.

Tell us about your company, products and how unique they are?

Ace Beverage Group (ABG) is a Toronto-based company that served up many of Canada’s best selling drinks last year, including Cottage Springs vodka seltzers and Ace Hill brand beers and radlers. ABG is one of the country’s fastest growing beverage makers today with over $100M in retail sales forecasted in 2022. Our portfolio of 6 brands with over 50 unique products offers a lot of variety and there is truly something for everyone. Whether it’s seltzer, beer, cooler, wine or cider – we have you covered. As a company we are using a well-researched approach that includes a 74-step process for introducing new products. The pitch starts with health in mind: the majority of our products contain one gram of sugar or less and are low in calories. The core of everything we do is creating drinks that taste better, and are better for you, compared to what’s on the market. We also frequently tap to consumer data to shape decisions, including feedback from our social-media network. Innovation drives our growth and the consumer is our compass.

Examples of unique innovationsCanada’s 1st zero sugar cider (Liberty Village 2017), Canada’s 1st and only zero sugar non-carbonated option (Cottage Springs 2020), Canada’s 1st zero sugar wine spritz (Good Vines 2020), Canada’s first zero carb beer (Ace Hill 2022), and more recently a partnership with Bob McKenzie on the launch of Bobby Margarita to name a few.

What is a favorite memory of playing in Brandon?
There are simply too many to count! The fans and the entire community in Brandon are simply one of a kind and it was a privilege to be able to play there. If I had to choose one memory it would probably be my first playoff game as a Wheat King in the 2007 series opener against the Prince Albert Raiders. I remember it being a pretty wild game that went into overtime. I was lucky enough to score a couple on home ice that day including a game winning goal. Sometimes the hockey gods are in your favour and I guess moments like that you will always remember.

Check out Ace Beverage Group and all the various products.