November 26, 2020
FOUNDATION FOR FUTURE SUCCESS
For Larkin Bros., a New Glasgow, P.E.I. family-owned farm-to-table operation marketing grain-fed, medication- and antibiotic-free poultry products to Island supermarkets, hotels, restaurants and corner stores, the past two years -- including the COVID-19 pandemic -- have been key to its development. “Achieving our HACCP level of certification in 2019 was a huge big deal," says Paul Larkin. "A third-party audit ensured that we had the right systems in place, developed efficient management practices, upgraded our facility to meet this standard, and trained our employees to be adept at evolving processes. Even when the owners are not present, everyone is committed to proper protocol. It's laid the foundation for everything we're planning for the future.”
Just after the pandemic hit, Larkin Bros. hired its first general manager Lincoln Key to oversee operations, and the company, like many others, had to pivot quickly in response. "Our Charlottetown Farmers' Market outlet closed and our restaurant sales fell to zero, but our retail sales rallied to make up the difference," says Harvey Larkin. The company updated its website to promote online purchasing, set up safe curbside pickup for food products, and implemented additional safety measures with the assistance of the federal Emergency Processing Fund.
At the same time, Larkin Bros. has been benefiting from its involvement in Food Island Partnership's Food Propel Program. “Although COVID-19 impacted the nature of our participation," says Rosemary Larkin, “the mentoring, ideas, and new equipment we've acquired are gamechangers." Food Propel's trip to the San Francisco Food Show was a pivotal moment, introducing the company to innovative products and a network of food entrepreneurs. "It exposed us to fresh ideas, while the Program's Telling Your Story course is prompting us to differentiate ourselves with our customers." Food Propel's mentorship team continues to raise the bar with their expertise and expectations. "Mentorship helps with accountability and strategic planning," says Rosemary Larkin. "They constantly challenge us to do our very best."
Currently focusing on building year-round sales capacity and new value-added food products such as turkey jerky, Larkin Bros. is also participating in efforts to ensure future food security, so the region will be COVID self sufficient. "Even with the pandemic, we're convinced there's plenty of room for growth on P.E.I.," says Linda Larkin. "We see ourselves potentially doubling our sales and staff within the next five years."
By Magner Ink (www.magnerink.com). This is one in a series of articles on the P.E.I. Food Cluster.