December 15, 2021
Customer Service, Teamwork, & Maximizing Space is PEI Preserve Company's Jam.
Since 1987 the Prince Edward Island Preserve Company has been dazzling us all with homemade jams, premium teas, spice blends, and so much more. Food businesses are an important part of Canada's Food Island.
How it all started?
It all started when founder Bruce MacNaughton, after years of being away studying cooking in Toronto, came home to PEI, to start a company making preserves. Strawberry with Grand Marnier was the first flavour created and a hit from the get-go.
Prior to moving to Toronto to study cooking, he was a food waiter in Charlottetown. He was frequently asked what would be a great gift that represents the amazing food grown on PEI. He wondered what else other than lobster and potatoes until one day a friend’s mother gave him a bottle of homemade strawberry jam. This was when he realized this would be the perfect gift. But he wanted to be unique and chose to create recipes that were low in sugar and without preservatives.
After travelling and selling to large accounts away, he and his wife Shirley purchased and renovated a 1913 creamery in New Glasgow, PEI. Together along with their staff have grown the location into one of the busiest attractions on the Island while still preserving with the same recipes and all by hand.
Biggest Challenges to Overcome
Going online was not an issue for the Preserve Company as they have been online since 1998. He prides how his team has led the way with customer service.
So the biggest challenge was how to respond to the high volume of calls and emails. But they did it with a great team spirit and the mail-order business grew 400%. Their customers were missing Prince Edward Island and missing their beloved products from the company. The team is well prepared this year and is passionately dedicated with a goal to get all boxes ordered before 2 pm, packed and shipped the same day by 5 pm. Customer service is of the utmost importance! They pride themselves on a personalized touch. They handwrite cards adding a personalized touch to gifts ordered online, and if you order for yourself; they even add a gift for you compliments of the Preserve Company. Now that is customer service!
Business, Like The Seasons Change Quarterly
Each quarter is unique for this specific food business throughout the spring and summer months it is mostly retail and foodservice, and then October through December the business pivots to all online and gift-giving. In their business, there is a rhythm and season. To support the fall through winter business they maximize every square inch of space as they convert their cafe dining room (image above) into a warehouse/shipping area and we must say it has an incredible view.
Bruce remembers the first time he lost money in his business. As a food entrepreneur, this would be stressful and unsettling to anyone. Distraught in the accountant’s office, he mournfully wondered out loud what to do. The advice given was loud and clear, “just keep going, you’ll figure it out”. And I think we can all say we are grateful he did. He has always been passionate about business and recalls when it all started when his heads thinking went to his heart’s feeling lighting his path and discovering this was the right journey for him.
Bruce's Words of Wisdom
Keep going! Keep Learning! Listen to your Heart.
Bruce loves so many of his products. Preserve - Black Currant & Rhubarb. He also loves the nice little kick from their Peach Salsa. Tea - Organic PEI Breakfast.
Bruce & Shirley have big hearts and are always looking for ways to give back in meaningful ways. They moved an old church and renovated it offering support "family time" for those who need a place for rest while dealing with a life-threatening illness or compassion fatigue. Over the last thirteen years, they have hosted families from all over North America. People have to come to know of this special place mostly by word of mouth, through hospitals, and by social workers.
We asked him what can we expect next for new products. And we could not get this out of him, however, he did share we can expect to see new products by next summer. We can't wait!
Where To Learn More
Be sure to show them some love and join their online community for gift ideas, recipes and so much more Instagram, Facebook, www.preservecompany.com or check out Bruce's Blog - Bruce's Muses.