BRIGHT FUTURE: Wimmers saviour Peter Lavin at home at his horse stud in Cooroy with some of his drinks.
BRIGHT FUTURE: Wimmers saviour Peter Lavin at home at his horse stud in Cooroy with some of his drinks. Geoff Potter

He’s on a Wimmer hoping to uncork the XXXX factor

THE owner of a Sunshine Coast soft drink company that was on the verge of oblivion just 12 months ago  believes it could become one of the country's most recognisable brands.

Wimmers soft drinks at Cooroy has started growing again, even turning "a small profit", and new owner Peter Lavin wants to make it a formidable force in the market.

He believes the 105-year-old company should be recognised among the best in the country.

"It should be third or fourth in Australia, with the product it has and the time it's been here. It just hasn't had the right direction, I believe," Mr Lavin said.

But could it ever be as big a name as Fourex or Coke?

The millionaire racehorse owner and breeder doesn't totally reject the idea but says he is happy to take small steps for now.

"I'd be happy to be as big as Bundaberg (Brewed Drinks) at this stage," he said.

"I think small steps is a good thing."

He admitted matching Coca-Cola would be no mean feat, but said Wimmers had its own strategies for success.

"We can put the product out there, they can always bash us with price and marketing, so we've got to look at niche markets and quality products."

Wimmers, which still uses the original recipes dating back to early last century, has emerged tentatively from a worrying financial hole, with Mr Lavin and fellow owners scaling back the previous distribution network and starting virtually from scratch.

Interstate distribution, which delivered very little profit, was stopped, and focus was returned to marketing on the Sunshine Coast and the state's south-east.

The company now distributes through 40 IGA supermarkets, and is looking at increasing its lines at Woolworths.

"We're negotiating with Woolworths to get a bigger range with them and we're in with Coles on a trial basis at 12 supermarkets on the Sunshine Coast," Mr Lavin said.

"We've just come back to our strong base and we'll work out from there."

Marketing has included cheeky TV commercials to help spread the word through comical situations. The company is reporting monthly sales increases of 20%.

Mr Lavin said the business had been hamstrung by the fact its 1500sq m factory was located between other businesses and unable to expand.

Negotiations are under way for a new $5 million, 3600sq m factory at Cooroy beside the Bruce Hwy.

"What we're doing, hopefully in March, we'll be in a new factory and buying in new equipment and expanding our products," Mr Lavin said.

"We'll probably head down the nutrient water way and we have a couple of things up our sleeves."

The new factory will employ 20 extra people.

"We've been going good. It's been a bit of a battle but we're getting there," Mr Lavin said.