Challenge: Meeting demand for potatoes and employment year round
Solution: Expanding facilities to meet both needs
Customers, staff and potato lovers will all benefit from a recent expansion at Thompson Potato Company. The Victoria, PEI, company has completed a new state-of-the-art ventilated storage expansion and installed optical sorting equipment to increase processing capability and extend the packing season.
“These latest steps give us the capacity to better serve growers across PEI, access new export markets, and expand employment opportunities with our company,” says co-owner Wayne Thompson.
Specifically, he notes, the new equipment enables Thompson Potato to meet customer demand for potatoes year-round. It allows the company to improve the quality of stored potatoes and hold those potatoes for a longer period of time to fill orders. Staff will also move from seasonal work ten months of the year to year-round work.
Equally important: the return on investment for the company is significant. “We can now grade potatoes with fewer graders,” says Wayne. “It makes us more efficient. We are faster.”
Wayne and his brother James have been growing their potato processing capacity since they started the company in 2007. After two years of operation, they added temperature-controlled bins that enabled them to double capacity, and in 2014, they increased their packing area from 500 square metres to over 800 square metres. Today, Thompson Potato employs 10 people and grows upwards of 20 hectares of potatoes annually. The company also packs product from growers across the Island.
“We have expanded gradually,” says Wayne.
The growth has also been strategic. Garden Isle Farms, which purchases all the company’s packaged potatoes, needed to have more product available throughout the year. Thompson Potato was pleased to meet that demand. “The number one thing about expansion,” stresses Wayne, “is knowing that you have a market.”
Partnerships focused on building, growing and scaling up a business, such as the one with the Government of Canada, also play a key role in Thompson Potato Company’s continued growth. With support from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), the government is helping Thompson Potato upgrade its capacity and improve the quality of its product. An investment of $350,000 will go towards the purchase and installation of equipment which will allow the company to extend its packing season and provide product to buyers year-round.
Thompson Potato Company is a prime example of how innovation and resourcefulness fuel Atlantic Canada’s economy, at home and beyond.
For more information on programs and services available to businesses in Atlantic Canada call 1-800-561-7862 or go to canada.ca/acoa.