Today’s guest blog post comes from Mentor Works, a business support organization specializing in Canadian government funding. Author Chris Casemore along with team members, describes how an agri-food business worked with Mentor Works to secure funding to expand its business and identifies three funding programs that may be of interest to your business.
Heidelberg, Ontario’s Stemmler’s Meat and Cheese has a long and storied history of producing a variety of nutritious, healthy products. With food options that are free of gluten, MSG, and nitrate, Stemmler’s has been able to accommodate shifting market demands while never sacrificing high quality in any of their goods. This focus on niche markets has led to continuous growth in recent years. From its humble beginning in 1985, Stemmler’s growth has included moving the business and expanding product selection.
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s latest data proves that the agri-food industry is critical to Canada’s economic prosperity, reporting $103.5 billion in revenue in 2012, accounting for 6.7% of Canada’s GDP. It’s no wonder then that government funding programs are available to support this industry’s growth. In fact, Stemmler’s has integrated funding into their expansion efforts, including grants for capital equipment, business planning, and business systems.
Stemmler’s Business Expansion Fuelled by Funding
Stemmler’s recent success can be attributed to:
- strategic thinking,
- internal expertise, and
- securing funding to increase cash flow.
In some of their most recent expansion efforts, Stemmler’s added new equipment. High-end, fast stuffing equipment will help them to produce more products, while new packaging equipment will enable them to package their goods faster and more reliably. These machines were purchased with government funding grants including Rural Economic Development (RED) and Growing Forward 2 (GF2) Ontario.
How Stemmler’s Secured Funding
As a growing meat and cheese processor in Ontario, Stemmler’s identified the opportunity to expand their cash flow through government funding.
Kevin Stemmler, Owner of Stemmler Meat and Cheese, recently discussed the process of obtaining government funds and explained why they were so successful in leveraging this money to improve their business. Mentor Works, an Ontario-based Canadian government funding support organization, sat down with Kevin to reflect on his experience with funding and the impact that it has had on his business.
Stemmler’s learned about potential funding programs through a presentation by Mentor Works. Mentor Works then worked with Kevin to develop a funding strategy and assist with the application process. According to Kevin, this support was very valuable:
“Our problem has always been time; we don’t have the time to work through this ourselves. With the criteria involved [to complete funding applications], we didn’t have the background in regards to that and you did.”
How Funding benefitted Stemmler’s
Stemmler’s quality standards require high-end machinery. Fortunately, government funding enabled them to buy some of the best machinery available, which in turn adds to their competitive advantage. In the words of Kevin Stemmler:
“[Funding] helps us afford the equipment that is most appropriate for our situation. It’s had a huge impact as a result. We’re able to do a pilot project with the government called the Ontario Student Nutrition Program.”
This equipment purchasing grant was just one of the opportunities that Stemmler’s used to leverage government funds to expand their business. As a business, it is important to create a cohesive funding strategy that consists of multiple programs when possible, and use of consultants may help in this regard:
“We did get involved with a consultant to do a feasibility analysis. That report gave the information we needed for this expansion projects which lead us to access Growing Forward 2 as a result.”
– Kevin Stemmler, Owner of Stemmler Meat & Cheese
Funding Programs Accessed by Stemmler’s
The Rural Economic Development (RED) Program seeks to support the economic growth and development of select communities with fewer than 100,000 people. This program provides funding of up to 50% with no set minimums or maximums on project costs and allows businesses to gain funds for strategic planning and implementation. There are a wide range of eligible projects.
The Growing Forward 2 (GF2) Ontario Program is the provincial variant of the Growing Forward 2 funding initiative. GF2 Ontario assists food processors investigate new technologies or processes that encourage improved competitiveness. In addition, the program will also provide skills training or education to employees on how to use new equipment or how to be more efficient on a daily basis. 35-50% of project costs up to $350,000 may be covered through this funding program, making equipment and facility upgrades more feasible for the average Ontario food processor. Funding for equipment is capped at $100,000.
Stemmler’s Future Funding Plans
Poised for growth through significant capacity upgrades, Stemmler’s will be able to continue assessing their operations and evaluate where their next opportunity lies. Their new strategic initiatives will allow them to take advantage of new and recurring funding programs as soon as government funding that matches their project timelines. Stemmler’s has already recognized the need to hire new employees to support their increased capacity, and will be applying for funding to support the creation of jobs.
Is Your Company the Next Funding Success? To learn more about funding, businesses are encouraged to access free online resources on the Mentor Works website, including a comprehensive daily business funding blog, the wage subsidy identifier for hiring grants, and free informational funding webinars. Mentor Works helped Stemmler’s identify funding needs and streamline the application process. We are happy to discuss funding opportunities with your business. Contact us today!