McCain Foods opens new plant



    FLORENCEVILLE, NB, July 22 /CNW/ - A $65-million state-of-the art potato
processing plant began production on July 22 replacing the first factory ever
built by McCain Foods more than 50 years ago.
    The new plant marks the end of one era and the beginning of another for
both McCain Foods and the Tompkins family of Florenceville, N.B.
    In September, 1957, Allen Tompkins ran the steam machine that peeled the
first potatoes ever processed by McCain Foods. Fifty-one years later, Allen's
eldest son, Leon Tompkins, supervised production as the first fries came off
the line at the new factory built on the same site.
    The Tompkins family history is intertwined with the rich history of the
McCain family who, in a single generation, turned the rural town of
Florenceville, N.B. into "the French fry capital of the world".
    The family vividly recalls the bitterly cold day on December 31, 1989,
when a massive fire destroyed much of the original Florenceville factory. It
was retirement day for Allen Tompkins, who was leaving the company after
33 years of service. Leon was one of the many McCain employees who rushed to
scene to help fight the fire.
    Like his father before him, Leon Tompkins has worked at McCain for more
than 30 years. His mother and all of his seven siblings also worked for the
company at some point during their lives. Two sisters, Roxane and Ruth, still
work there and a brother, Kevin Tompkins, works at Day and Ross, one of the
McCain Group of companies.
    "I started working here as a kid cutting grass," said Leon. "When I was
16, I was working part-time cleaning equipment, making $32 a week. It was good
money in those days. It paid for my new car."
    Leon joined McCain full-time the day after he graduated from high school
and soon after bought his first house. While he never planned to stay forever,
he now says, "I plan to be here till I'm done."
    "My father always said he'd never leave, and he never did. He was offered
big money to work for a competitor but he refused. McCain was more or less his
family. He said they were always here for the families. It was all about the
community and the families and that's still what it's all about today."
    Leon's sister, Ruth, agrees.
    "Dad used to tell the story of how Harrison (McCain) actually helped pay
for the hospital expenses when my Mom had Leon and some of the other kids, as
well. The story goes that when my sister Roxane came along, Harrison decided
that they needed medical coverage. It was a long-standing joke in our family
that Dad was the incentive for the medical plan."
    All of the Tomkins are proud of their long association with the company
and what they have accomplished together.
    "I have always been proud to call myself a McCain employee, as was my
father," said Roxane. I have 30 years with the company and I am just as proud
today as I was then. Their success was my success."
    A clear sign of that success is the company's newly-renovated corporate
headquarters, new fertilizer plant and now the new French fry plant in
Florenceville.
    An official opening ceremony will be held in September and there is
little doubt that Leon, Ruth and Roxane will take their rightful place among
the dignitaries who gather to celebrate the past success and equally bright
future of McCain Foods (Canada). But for the Tompkins, the event will have
even deeper meaning. It will also be a family celebration.


    /NOTE TO PHOTO EDITORS: A photo accompanying this release is available on
    the CNW Photo Network and archived at http://photos.newswire.ca.
    Additional archived images are also available on the CNW Photo Archive
    website at http://photos.newswire.ca. Images are free to accredited
    members of the media/




For further information:

For further information: Calla Farn, Vice President, Government/Public
Relations and Corporate Affairs, McCain Foods (Canada), (506) 392-3277,
calla.farn@mccain.ca

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