by Stella Shepard
Johnny Blaisdell worked at a butchery and meat market for 25 years before purchasing the business and renaming it J & D Custom Butchery, located at Pooles Corner, near Montague.
The renamed business, which is co-owned with his wife and business partner Debbie Keefe, launched in July 2019.
“The former owner decided to retire,” says Johnny, who lives in Martinvale.
“He put the business up for sale and we decided to purchase it. There is a huge demand for custom butchering in the Island farming community that we serve.”
The hardworking couple are busy despite the pandemic and the rising cost of doing business. The demand for their service and products continues to grow. “Business is as busy as ever since opening and it’s going strong,” says Johnny. “The cost of doing business is now higher than when we first opened, but this is the case and the challenge for other business owners as well.
“We are being challenged with raising prices to meet the demands of inflation and yet keeping prices low enough for customers,” says Johnny.
Johnny transitioned from employee to employer with the assistance of the Community Business Development Corporation East (CBDC) 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.
Johnny and Debbie were eligible for a financial loan through CBDC East to purchase the business and to purchase new equipment. They also enrolled in business courses offered through CBDC East, which were helpful in making the transition to becoming owners.
“Knowing how to do the work was not an issue after being employed in the industry for 25 years,” says Johnny. “But we lacked the business experience such as how to make the numbers work in order to make sure we could pay staff and contractors and have a profit at the end of the week.”
The new business saw six months of delays before it opened because of renovations and purchasing new cooling units. Johnny contacted CBDC East, explained the delay in opening, and said they couldn’t make the first loan payment.
“CBDC East was very accommodating and said they would fix it on their end. They told us to get back to work and get in business as soon as we could. This would never have happened if we had dealt with the banking institutions.
“About five months ago, I approached CBDC East for another loan to purchase more equipment. I have since paid them back because business is so good.
“The staff at CBDC East want small business owners to succeed in Kings County. They are not setting you up for failure. It would have been impossible to become entrepreneurs without the financial and moral support of the staff at CBDC East.”
Johnny has retained former customers as well as taking on new ones, and is building a thriving, successful business, which has resulted in hiring.
“There are seven staff members, including myself and Debbie. I could use six to eight more employees, but I’m not hiring because I can’t find the trained staff I need.
“Custom butchering is a physically demanding trade and there is no training available at the post-secondary level on PEI, which makes it more challenging to hire trained staff.”
For more information about Community Business Development Corporation East (CBDC) call 902-838-4030.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
about J & D Custom Butchery, call Johnny Blaisdell or Debbie Keefe at 902-838-3498.