Paradise Island Foods provides recipe for smooth transition - BDC names B.C. brothers as recipients of Rogers Business Transition Award



    NANAIMO, BC, Oct. 16 /CNW Telbec/ - hen Len and Kevin Thomson succeeded
their father in the top jobs at Paradise Island Foods in 2003, they were fully
equipped to lead the business and take it to a new level. To recognize the
sound planning that enabled them to successfully take over and grow the
business, BDC will present Kevin and Len with the Rogers Business Transition
Award tonight at a ceremony in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
    The ceremony, which also honours young entrepreneurs from across the
country with Young Entrepreneur Awards for each province and territory, is a
highlight of BDC's Small Business Week. The Rogers Business Transition Award
is presented to a company that has effectively managed a transfer of ownership
following an inter-generation succession.
    Paradise Island Foods, founded by George Thomson in 1978, manufactures
and distributes quality cheese, cheese alternatives and other wholesale food
products. By 2003, when Len and Kevin stepped into the top roles, they had
been well-groomed to take over the business. While they had worked for their
father's company at an early age, they had also gone out and gained experience
working for other people in the retail food business. "My father always said
we should prove that we could be an asset to him before he would hire us,"
points out Len.

    Getting ready

    It was six years prior to the takeover that George started coaching his
sons for their new roles. "He turned over responsibility to us and we built
relationships with the suppliers, clients, banks, lawyers and insurers that he
dealt with," says Len. "When he stepped away from the day-to-day operations,
the transition had already happened."
    To ensure all the right pieces were in place, the Thomsons consulted
expert accountants and lawyers who were experienced in succession planning. "I
would recommend that anyone doing succession planning work closely with an
experienced legal expert," says Len. "It's also important to keep everyone in
the loop. People need to know the what, when and why of your plan."
    Len, who is President, and Kevin, Vice-president of Operations, describe
their business as an "ever-changing" trade. They are constantly monitoring the
market and working to grow the company. Since taking over, they have added
efficiency to their lines, introduced an incentive program for employees,
established safety and social committees, and brought in a just-in-time
inventory process. "Our market is continuing to expand," says Len. "Not only
is the population growing, but there are more and more customers, such as baby
boomers, who are prepared to spend money on specialty cheeses."
    "Rogers is very pleased to be presenting the Rogers Business Transition
Award to the Thomsons for entrepreneurial excellence. Their success is
directly attributable to being dedicated and committed to effectively managing
their company's operations," says Laura Kwiatkowski, General Manager, Midwest
Region, Rogers.
    As the company, which now employs over 60 people, has grown, Kevin and
Len have worked to continue the "family culture" that is one of the trademarks
of Paradise Island Foods. "We have a lot of long-term employees here," says
Len, "and there is a real team atmosphere."
    "I congratulate the Thomsons for planning and implementing such a smooth
succession initiative. With the Canadian economy set to undergo an
unprecedented wave of company successions, they are a role model for the many
others who will go through the same process," says BDC President and CEO
Jean-René Halde.
    "My father literally started this business out of his basement," says
Len. "He built it by focusing on quality and customer service. We are
continuing what he started and working on taking it to new levels. We're all
very pleased with how things are turning out."

    Young entrepreneurs in the spotlight

    BDC's Young Entrepreneur Awards are a highlight of Small Business Week,
providing the opportunity to honour the entrepreneurial spirit and business
success of Canadians between the ages of 19 and 35. Winners from each province
and territory are selected by a panel based on the originality of their
business concept, its success, growth potential and their community
involvement. The panel also considers the entrepreneur's age when the business
was started and any special challenges that had to be faced.

    Small Business Week partners

    Contributing to the success of this year's Small Business Week and Young
Entrepreneur Awards are the following national sponsors: Western Economic
Diversification Canada, Export Development Canada and Rogers. Privileged
partners are the Pan Canadian Community Futures Group and the Canadian Chamber
of Commerce, which has been a privileged partner of the event since 1981.

    About BDC

    BDC is a financial institution wholly owned by the Government of Canada.
BDC actively supports the development and growth of Canadian small and
medium-sized businesses through its complementary financial, investment and
consulting solutions.BDC is one of Canada's Top 100 Employers for 2008. Visit
www.bdc.ca for more information.
    Small Business Week is a registered trademark of BDC.




For further information:

For further information: or to arrange for an interview on October 16:
Media Room: 1-866-515-6033, (204) 985-6251; After October 16: Johanne
Bissonnette, Media Relations Manager, (514) 283-7929


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