Challenge: Meeting a major customer's demand for more product
Solution: Enhancing efficiency with an innovative new packing system
The Dubé family has been growing potatoes since the late 1800s. Today, Mike Dubé and his father George oversee 1,200 acres of land as well as a packing and storage facility with a capacity of 6,500 tonnes. Their operation employs up to 30 employees for the planting, growing, harvesting, and packing season. Everyday, thousands of North Americans enjoy the fruits of their labour every time they pick up a 5- or 10- or 15-pound bag of potatoes at Walmart.
The agricultural company, based in Grand Falls, N.B., is now improving its packing facility to meet increased demand from shoppers.
“I wasn’t able to service my customers with the system I had. I needed to upgrade,” says Mike Dubé, Dubé Farms General Manager.
The former system, which was replaced in 2017, was outdated and rusting while the new stainless steel system offers greater longevity and new production options, particularly traceability. Mike noted that this feature is a safety issue, because now that the system has the capability to print dates on packages, it is easier to pinpoint the origin of a subpar product.
The new system, financed with funding from ACOA, also includes a baler for five-pound bags. “The machine produces more bags per minute and more efficiently,” notes Mike. “It puts the potatoes in the bag and it seals them with quick locks.”
“Innovation is critical to any business”, says Mike. “For the farm, the acquisition of the new packing equipment was essential to its growth. “It requires taking a calculated risk. You can’t be afraid of commitment. You need a clear vision of where you want to go.” According to Mike, that vision should include a focus on dollars and cents. “You need to plan ahead. Don’t tie up all your capital. Learn to spread it out.”
Nevertheless, Mike acknowledges that receiving a helping hand is always appreciated. “ACOA is a great asset to the value-added food sector,” says Mike. “We have to watch our pennies. Affordable financing helps us get ahead.”
The Dubés have built their business on meeting the demands of both their customers and their market. Over the years, this has included everything from implementing C-PIQ, a quality assurance program recognized in the U.S. and Canada, to now putting in place a food safety program.
At its heart, the business goal remains what it was from the start: bringing delicious potatoes to people’s plates – a task at which Dubé Farms excels.
The Government of Canada understands that accessing financial capital is critical to building, growing, and scaling a business. With support from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), the government is helping Dubé Farms increase efficiency and meet consumer demands. A recent investment of over $100,000 allowed the company to purchase and install a high performing boiler and bagger.
Dubé Farms is a prime example of how innovation and resourcefulness fuel Atlantic Canada’s economy, at home and beyond.
Do you have a business concept? Do you have an innovative idea to improve or grow your business? For more information on programs and services available to businesses in Atlantic Canada call 1-800-561-7862 or go to www.acoa-apeca.gc.ca
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