Valley Flax Flour earns chamber of commerce Outstanding Exporter of the Year award
Valley Flax Flour receives an ‘outstanding’ exporter award.
A Middleton company that started out grinding flax seeds in a coffee grinder 20 years ago to help improve the digestive health of seniors capped two decades in business with the Annapolis Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Outstanding Exporter of the Year Award.
“We just felt totally excited, elated,” said Valley Flax Flour owner Howard Selig after the winner was announced Nov. 1 at a ceremony at the Old Orchard Inn in Greenwich. “We didn’t expect to win or to have that honour because we had some good competition. We thought, ‘well we’re a little company with some big exporters in the Annapolis Valley area.’”
The Middleton company that sells milled flax seed to the health care, retail, equine, and secondary manufacturing markets, also won the AVCC Outstanding Innovator of the Year Award in 2017, and was awarded Taste of Nova Scotia’s Product of the Year in 2016 for its gluten-free pancake and cookie mix.
“We have various markets that we sell into. The No. 1 market, of course, is health care and most of that is going to Ontario, New Brunswick, and outside the Annapolis Valley,” he said. “It would be going to nursing homes in Cape Breton, Truro, Halifax, everywhere around the province, including our own local ones here in the Annapolis Valley.”
“Our horse market we sell through major retailers, distributors throughout Atlantic Canada,” he said. “Our newest market that we’ve really been fo- cusing on is the online store, so Selene (Pyke) did a lot of work with Shopify to set up our online store and make that really easy to use, make shipping included in our pricing, and that’s where we see the greatest market potential in terms of retail growth, that online store.”
Marketing whiz Pyke was hired as office manager in June and quickly increased the company’s online presence through various social media platforms and with the online store, ramping up online sales.
“This is the perfect way to cap off 20 years of building a small business in the Annapolis Valley, to be honoured with something that recognizes all the hard work that we’ve done for 20 plus years to build a business in an industry that didn’t have a track record,” Selig said. “To take something like flax, start grinding it in a coffee grinder at home and eventually end up 20 years later in a 8,000-square-foot facility in the Middleton Industrial Park – well it’s been an amazing trip, an amazing journey from there to where we are now with excellent staff and excellent community support as well.”
Valley Flax Flour’s latest product development has been its all- Canadian breakfast cereal introduced in March. Selig said it’s designed to target the national online market with a Canadian, gluten-free option.
“Initial sales of this product have been significant,” Selig said.
Besides being general manager and owner of Valley Flax Flour, Selig is a registered dietitian and certified foodservice manager who said his first concern is always about people’s health.
The Middleton business is also looking a exporting outside of Canada.
“We have remained GMO-free in consideration of market expansion into Europe,” he said. “To help us investigate this market, we accepted an invitation from the Saint Mary’s University MBA program to work with their graduate students,” Selig said. “This venture will see our products introduced to European buyers next spring.”
Selig said the company is proceeding with equipment upgrades and site renovations in preparation for expansion of both their online and traditional markets.
-- New Business of the Year: Hill’s Grills Panini Press & Tea House, Kentville
-- Small Business of the Year: Darwin Event Group, Berwick
-- Micro Business of the Year: Victory Taekwondo, New Minas
-- Large Business of the Year: Annapolis Valley Home Care Ltd., Kingston
-- Innovator of the Year: Wolfville Farmers’ Market, Wolfville
-- Exporter of the Year: Valley Flaxflour Ltd., Middleton
Valley Flax Flour Ltd. owner and general manager Howard Selig holds up the Annapolis Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Outstanding Exporter of the Year award that his Middleton company earned. The award was presented Nov. 1.
Valley Flax Flour Ltd. of Middleton earned the Annapolis Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Outstanding Exporter of the Year award Nov. 1 at a gala event at the Old Orchard Inn in Greenwich. Celebrating the next day at the mill and retail outlet in Middleton are production manager Wade Russell, office manager Salene Pyke, and owner and general manager Howard Selig.
Valley Flax Flour Ltd. production manager Wade Russell loads boxes of product onto an 18-wheeler bound for markets in Ontario. The Middleton company was presented with the Annapolis Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Outstanding Exporter of the Year award Nov. 1.