Flour power

Val­ley Flax Flour earns cham­ber of com­merce Out­stand­ing Ex­porter of the Year award

Annapolis Valley Register - - FRONT PAGE - BY LAWRENCE POW­ELL THE SPEC­TA­TOR

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.

The Win­ners:

-- 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

LAWRENCE POW­ELL

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.

LAWRENCE POW­ELL

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.

LAWRENCE POW­ELL

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.

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