by Stella Shepard
Tom Margeson, President and CEO of Healthy Berries Ltd. pitched his high-quality puréed berry products on the popular CBC TV show, Dragons’ Den and ended up with a potential deal and much more.
“We make a fantastic product, with a great team in Montague,” says Tom. “When you have a product to promote like our Superfruit Puree, it makes my life a bit easier. The state-of-the art facility located on Commercial Road in Montague produces high quality puréed berry products is bustling with activity.”
Dragons’ Den allows hopeful entrepreneurs to pitch their business propositions to a panel of Canadian business tycoons in hopes they will invest in their company. Healthy Berries was in the Dragon’s Den in Toronto in May of 2022, and the show aired in October.
“It was an amazing experience, and the outcome was very interesting,” says Tom. “Our online sales doubled, we received product inquiries from every province, and our instore sales have also improved. No deal has been signed yet but that was not the main goal. We wanted to get the brand on national TV, and it worked.”
Tom is no stranger to the entrepreneurial world. He has conducted business in a global marketplace, with more than 40 years of experience in the food industry. He is also passionate about helping people eat healthy.
“After the sudden passing of the previous owner Peter Kohler, I officially took over the company in November 2020 after restructuring the management team, reorganizing the business, and keeping the company working through COVID-19,” says Tom. “Like Peter, I believe in the product, but more importantly, I believe in the team at Healthy Berries Ltd.”
The products are available in every Canadian province and in nine other countries, including the United States and India. “We produce a one-of-a-kind wild blueberry purée on-site in four flavours: wild blueberry, wild blueberry and strawberry, wild blueberry and cranberry, and wild blueberry and haskap in 350 ml glass bottles. The fruit is Maritime sourced except for the Ontario strawberries.
“In 2021, we launched two flavours in our new 250 ml squeeze bottle. Before the end of the year, we launched Superfruit Purée Solos, single serve stick tubes filled with our purée. All products are shelf stable with up to two years shelf life and are produced with no added ingredients or preservatives. Fresh fruit is the only ingredient. Nothing is added, and nothing is taken away.
“Our patented state-of-the art process utilizes the entire berry, including the skin, pulp, seeds, and juice, and produces a purée that is extremely high in antioxidants and is much healthier than juice.”
“Depending on production schedules, we currently have between nine and 15 full-time and part-time staff.”
As a result of pitching the products to Dragons’ Den, the increase in sales have led to hiring needs. “We have an additional need for a minimum of four more Production Workers, who we will train on-site starting before the new year or in January,” says Tom.
“We are currently looking for Shift Supervisors and Machine Operators, as well as a Food Safety person to work in our lab. We will require more staff as we develop and add new production lines.
“When hiring, we look for individuals who want to learn new skills and work in a clean production facility that has a BRCGS Global Food Safety certification. We look for individuals who are self-starters, enjoy new challenges, and want to progress in their career and develop new skills.
“We offer above minimum wage for entry-level positions and a higher salary for specialized staff.
“Our team worked with our plant manager, who is from Ukraine, to get members of his family to Canada and out of the war. It was unbelievable when they arrived, and we are so happy for his family to now call Montague home.”
Community Business Development Corporation East (CBDC) is located at the Rural Action Centre on Main Street in Montague. CBDC East provides business loans, counselling advice, entrepreneurship development, and business training.
CBDC East is staffed by Martina MacDonald, Director, Helen Antle, CBDC Officer, and Terri Taylor, Accounts Officer.
“Martina and Helen were very helpful as we secured a loan for new product line processing and packaging equipment acquisitions that the company needed to maintain and grow the business,” says Tom. “They toured the facility and were very impressed with the state-of-the art equipment, and they are very supportive of the business.”
For more information about Community Business Development Corporation East (CBDC) visit www.cbdc.ca or call 902-838-4030.