Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
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Steely determination

Adam Hergert and Steve Kelley

In the competitive world of export manufacturing, if you’re not continually improving, you’re out of business.

Nobody understands this better
than Charlottetown Metal Products (CMP) in Milton, Prince Edward Island. They’ve been manufacturing stainless steel, industrial food processing equipment since the late 1950s.

Originally focused on the groundfish industry, CMP’s 80 employees now build equipment to process potatoes, pork, beef, poultry, seafood and berries for a global client list, including the United States, Europe, South America and the Middle East.

“It’s basically all about increasing volume, quality and efficiency,” says Steve Kelley, president. “Our client list is not that big, but our clients are big. Our market is corporate, industrial food processing—those are big companies.”

CMP’s sales have tripled in the last five or six years and so has their workforce, requiring two expansions and causing them to double their processing space in the last few years.

Steve, who was also named Progress Magazine’s 2009 Entrepreneur of the Year for manufacturing, stresses that being constantly tuned into the everyday problems and concerns of their clients is a big part of CMP’s growth. “We’re continually tweaking our equipment to try and make it bigger, better, faster. And our clients are pretty vocal: ‘This doesn’t work very well, is there something you can do about that?’”

Research and development is another ingredient in CMP’s recipe for success. And their most important innovation to date is something they’re working on now—a continuous flow, high pressure steam processor. A patented set of valves allows food in and out of the cooking chamber without leaking steam, which minimizes heat loss. “It’s basically the most efficient steam cooker in the world,” Steve says.

The development of this game-changing piece of technology was made possible, in part, with support from ACOA’s Atlantic Innovation Fund.

“We are not a large company and we simply could not have taken this product to market without this funding,” Kelley acknowledges.

Although the steam processor is still under development, it is already generating a lot of customer interest within the industry.  

All in all, it looks like there are big things ahead for Charlottetown Metal Products. Since so much of their sales have focused on the US in the last couple of years, CMP will open a sales office there shortly. “It’s the biggest food processing market in the world. The Americans truly feed the planet and they need lots of equipment to do that.”

For CMP, understanding client needs and how they can satisfy those needs bring clients in—but providing quality, service and value is what keeps them coming back.

Published August 13, 2014