by Gloria Welton
Mid Isle Farms Inc. in Albany has been packing and shipping PEI potatoes for 40 years.
This company is one of PEI’s largest fresh packing facilities, providing potatoes to the homes and restaurants of millions of Canadians and Americans under the FoodTrust brand. They have the capacity to hold approximately 35 million pounds of potatoes onsite.
They are looking to build the number of staff from 28 to 35. Most of the new positions will be for Material Graders and General Labourers. “We hope the new recruits will be a good fit for our company, and we will continue to grow together,” says Andrew Costa, P.Eng, General Manager.
“We are very fortunate to have a good solid core staff which has been with the company for 10 to more than 25 years.
“We have a high regard and respect for each staff member, and consider ourselves an equal opportunity employer. We see value in a diverse, inclusive, merit-based, and equitable workplace. We recognize that diversity drives our creativity, resilience, and success, and makes our business stronger.”
Jennifer Harris, Director, Sales and Marketing, says about 60 percent of Mid Isle’s year to date sales before the border restrictions were imposed were shipped to the United States. “We are one of the fortunate packers to have a strong Canadian retail market which supports us during the time of being banned from US markets.
“Our industry is experiencing such ups and downs, but Mid Isle is coming back on track and we need to make sure we have the manpower. In the past and present day, we struggle to have enough staff to fully handle production needs. We are looking at ways to increase our production team.
“It is seasonal work with a short down time in the summer. About 15 staff work on location during the summer months, and the balance return in the fall when farmers haul potatoes into our storage facilities.”
Jennifer says the fall harvest is the most challenging time of the year, as potatoes are received and packaged at the same time. “It is important to have the right number of staff on location to support the receiving process while operating production.”
About the staff – supports, work hours, and wages
“Our staff is from the Albany to Summerside region,” says Jennifer. “We have a van that offers transportation to and from work. We try to help where we can, and this service seems to work well.
“We remain aware of industry wages and want to be inline. It is a balance between paying well and being competitive in the marketplace. Wages start at $15.34 per hour for 30 to 50 hours per week. Staff receives a bonus when the company has a profitable year.”
“We require staff to work varying hours, including some Saturdays and evenings, depending on the demand.
“Right now we have one shift from 8 am to 4:30 pm,” says Jennifer. “But there are days when we require staff to work overtime. We make sure to give the staff notice when overtime is required. We want to respect our employees’ time and certainly realize they have lives outside of work. It is challenging to strike the right work/life balance when there are staff shortages.”
Jennifer says the company puts a high priority on taking care of the staff and their needs. “We try to keep morale high in the work setting, and we are lucky to have a great team that does a very good job of that. On-site safety and standard training is available to staff.”
Jennifer has worked with this company for 16 years. “I left PEI to work in Montreal, I was recruited from another industry. The GM at the time knew I was looking to come home and saw me as a fit. I started in a junior position.
“Being part of a team and helping each other is our culture. We feel like we are a family, and we try hard to create a workplace that we are proud of.”
Staff members talk about their work experience at Mid Isle
“I like that it’s a fast-paced job that keeps me moving around,” says one staff member who has worked at Mid Isle for 25 years. “I also like that the company takes into consideration that I have obligations at home.”
“I like grading,” says another staff member who has worked at Mid Isle for 10 years. “The company provides a boot and glove allowance. If there is ever an issue it is easily resolved.”
How to apply
Andrew says Mid Isle Farms is an accessible employer. “If you require an accommodation throughout the recruitment process such as alternate formats of materials or accessible meeting rooms, please let us know and we will work with you to meet your needs.”