Keir Pollard. President of Charlottetown based SpryPoint recently spoke with UMC (Utility Market Connections)
a well-known US based utilities publication.
Here is an excerpt from that interview, check out the entire interview by clicking the link at the bottom of the page.
UMC: Give me a little background history on SpryPoint. How was the company founded and what are the origins of its name?
Keir Pollard: I had been working in the utility industry with mainframe and client-server software for over a decade both in
home-grown systems and packaged ERP platforms. I saw a lot of unproductive work and stagnation in developing and delivering
software and a lot more frustration from users that work with applications on a daily basis. By 2011, one could see the revolutionary
successes of the first generations of true cloud-based software, and it was clear that this was the path to frictionless application
delivery. This was also six months after the release of the iPad. When I got my hands on a first-generation iPad, I said
“This is how I want to work!” A few months later, I founded SpryPoint and immersed myself in the craft of enterprise web
development. Since then, we have built up a talented and productive development shop and support organization.
Our senior management team has over 40 years of experience in development, sales and implementation of enterprise utility solutions.
There is an interesting backstory to how we came up with the SpryPoint name. We are headquartered in Prince Edward Island,
which on the east coast of Canada and is known for its 800 miles of coastline, beautiful beaches and brutal winters. We wanted
our brand to have a connection to our home province and also reflect our agile approach to solution delivery and customer service.
There is a small community on the coast of PEI by the name of Spry Point which is well known for the “PEI Ark” which was a
research facility for sustainable energy that was built in the wake of the 1970s-energy crisis. The name felt like it fit with the
energy, agility, and purpose that we bring to work each day.
UMC: What is the company culture like at Sprypoint?
Keir Pollard: I’m a firm believer that if you are not enjoying what you are doing, you should be doing something else.
I truly enjoy the craft of software development, and know from experience some of the things that make for productive and
enjoyable development environment. A peaceful office, a supportive team, great equipment and productive development
toolsets are the first part. The second part is a well-rested mind. Although we are a small company and we know that the work
we are doing really matters to people in the real world, we encourage our team to work regular work hours, then go home.
In order to build great software, you really need to take time to recharge and spend time with family, play sports, or do
whatever drives you. We work hard the whole time we are in the office, then leave it alone and attack it again the next day.
While we are a group of passionate web and mobile developers, you will find no Nerf cannons or video game consoles in our office.
Northeast PHP 2017 conference chair Peter MacIntyre (left) and conference participant Lincoln Maskey discuss plans for this year’s event. (CBC)
The government of P.E.I. has given a $8,000 grant to Northeast PHP 2017 — a major IT conference being hosted
in Charlottetown from Aug. 9 to 11.
The Rodd Charlottetown will host the IT conference, marking the second consecutive year that Northeast PHP has
been hosted on the province.
“Northeast PHP 2017 gives increased profile to the industry here and that may attract new start ups or business
expansions to our province,” said Lincoln Maskey, a senior software engineer with iWave Information Systems an a
conference participant in a government news release.
“Beyond that, this is a tremendous learning and networking opportunity for industry professionals on the Island and
one that will pay dividends for the IT sector.”
The government of P.E.I said the IT sector contributes roughly $200 million annually to to the provincial economy
and employs over 1,800 people.
“We had an amazing response from the many presenters and delegates who came to Charlottetown last year for the
2016 edition of the conference,” said conference organized Peter MacIntyre.
“This year we are trying to build on that success.”
Original Source http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/pei-it-conference-grant-1.4229135?lipi=urn%3Ali%3Apage%3Ad_flagship3_feed%3BuCNylggvRDe%2BIdWzfWWDEg%3D%3D
“We’re very proud of our reputation as an energy leader in the region. But having said that we know that some of our
facilities we constructed during a time where energy efficient technology was just starting to appear,”
said Rob Philpott, the chief financial officer for the City of Summerside.
Since then there has been a lot of progress made, he added. On Thursday the city announced their partnership with Honeywell,
an energy services provider selected through a RFP process. “We decided to engage them because of their reputation for energy management and
leadership. They’ve done many of theses projects over the years with municipalities, hospitals and universities so we wanted to tap into expertise.”
The city’s Energy and Facility Renewal Program, which is cost neutral to the city, will look at areas in city facilities and the city itself to realize
areas of improvement in energy usage. At this point, there is no target reduction set. “We don’t have one in mind yet simply because right now
Honeywell is in the process of doing their audits. They’re going to be looking at the building envelopes, lighting, heating and ventilation.”
For context, said Philpott, the city’s annual energy bill, which includes heat and electricity that is consumed at all of the facilities, is
about $1 million a year. “Then if you add on the electricity it takes for the streetlights throughout the city, that’s another half a million dollars approximately.
When you look at a $1.5 million expense every year, there are hopefully opportunities to reduce it.” The first phase of the program involves an assessment
of the city’s building infrastructure, which includes validating the current conditions as well as occupancy schedules. Systems such as heating, ventilation,
air conditioning, mechanical equipment, lighting, building automation and air distribution systems will be the main areas of focus. The audit will also
look at street lighting to see if there are opportunities to save on the amount of electricity being used across the city. “We’re looking at just about all
city facilities including city hall, the fire department, the police station, Credit Union Place, the Culture Summerside properties as well as the municipal
services buildings. Once the audits are complete, the City will meet with Honeywell and discuss the upgrades that align with the City’s energy, sustainability
and other facility goals. Those selected will be aimed at revitalizing the city’s infrastructure while permanently reducing utility consumption and operating
costs as well as lower the city’s environmental footprint. There are always opportunities for improvement and we’re really trying hard to reduce our
carbon footprint especially with the possible implementation of a carbon tax system for the province pending.”
A western PEI company is having great success sharing Prince Edward Island’s abundant wild blueberries with the rest of the world.
PEI Juice Works(link is external) General Manager Jackson Platts says they recognized the opportunity to juice in bulk with the explosion of the craft brew market along the eastern seaboard. About 75 per cent of PEI Juice Works’ 100 per cent blueberry juice is shipped to China, Taiwan, Japan, Barbados, the U.S. and Europe.
Blueberries, which are considered a superfruit high in antioxidants and believed to have restorative qualities, are in high demand worldwide.
Each 375 ml bottle of juice contains just over one pound of wild blueberries. The addition of rhubarb, tart cherries and cranberries has created three unique blends that complement the natural essence of the wild blueberries.
The company doesn’t waste anything. They’re now using the skin of blueberries, dried and ground to a powder, for the commercial animal food market, and the nutraceutical industry. “You’ve got to find a way to pay the bills,” Platts joked.
“We continue to try to develop new products and new markets. Prince Edward Island is a great place to do business.”
Platts said the company has lots of supply from blueberry growers, along with a world-class cleaning, sorting and freezing facility with Wymans. “We have had very good support from Trade Team PEI, ACOA, the National Research Council, BioFoodTech and Innovation PEI. We received a lot of support to go on trade missions.”
Their biggest customer, China, sees the value in the PEI brand. A Canadian flag stamped on the bottle makes it even more desirable. “It’s a big niche to have that maple leaf on your bottle,” Platts said.
There’s a good chance that the next bag of Frito Lay potato chips you tear open will contain chips from Prince Edward Island-grown potatoes.
Historic Freetown-based Monaghan Farms collaborates with local growers to supply product to Frito Lay plants in Canada, the United States, Southeast Asia, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. It turns out they grow varieties of potatoes that are just what the chip giant is looking for; Monaghan Farms is now Frito Lay’s largest supplier of raw product for export and were their top Canadian supplier in 2007.
Derrick’s family emigrated from Ireland during the 1840s potato famine and named Monaghan Farms after the Irish county of their homeland. The Curley family still farms the original acreage where Thomas Curley established his original mixed-use farm.
Over the years the potato acreage grew, and in 1982 Monaghan Farms started selling potatoes in the processing market. Monaghan Farms’ relationship with Frito Lay – the largest player in the potato chip market – began in 1987 when Derrick’s father, Terry Curley, took a potato sample to Frito Lay’s Kentville, Nova Scotia plant to see if it met their standards.
It did. They have supplied the Kentville plant ever since.
Although throughout the years, Monaghan Farms has grown potatoes for Frito Lay, McCains, Cavendish Farms and Humpty Dumpty, today it grows only chip potatoes for Frito Lay.
Derrick says Monaghan Farms has succeeded because of the partners, growers, and employees they are fortunate enough to work with.
Their stock may be getting low as boating weather comes to a close for the year, but Mermaid Marine(link is external) will be ready to supply North American boaters for the 2017 season.
Staff at the successful wholesale marine distributor in Charlottetown are busy packing orders to ship to 1,000 boat dealers across the continent. The company supplies everything from engine parts to lifejackets for commercial and pleasure boats.
Having technicians on staff to answer dealers’ questions also sets Mermaid Marine apart.
“Customer service is our number 1 priority,” said General Manager Ron Savidant. “That’s how we have done so well.”
Owner Patrick Villeneuve oversees the staff of 25 at their 21,000-square-foot location in the Charlottetown Industrial Park. The company was founded by Villeneuve’s father Pierre in 1973 in Montreal, and is a perfect example of an Island enterprise that started out small and became big.
The elder Villeneuve often traveled across the Island en route to deliver diesel engines to his clients in the Magdalene Islands. He saw the need for marine products in Prince Edward Island, so in 1983 he packed up and moved to the Island to set up shop.
The company began with just five employees in 1983, and has grown. Now, Mermaid Marine is in the market for even more staff. They’ll need the additional help, since the company offers more than 18,000 items that can be ordered from its 700-page annual catalogue.
And business – just like the wind that any mariner will find this time of year in the Northumberland Strait – is brisk.
“For the small population we have PEI does wonderful things, we must have more geniuses per capita than anywhere else. We need to do a better job of advertising all we can do.” – Esther Dockendorff, president of PEI Mussel King
Prince Edward Island is an exciting place to do business! Islanders like Dockendorff are helping PEI’s business community grow every day. PEI Mussel King is a family owned and operated business that has continuously operated since 1978. PEI Mussel King exports their product throughout the world to countries in Asia, the Middle East and across the USA. PEI Mussel King – proving that Island businesses continue to deliver highest quality products and services to the marketplace.
The soft-spoken Island entrepreneur and 2015 Exporter of the Year would rather be behind the scenes of her successful Mussel growing and shipping business in Morell, PEI. Unfortunately she has been getting a lot of requests lately to step forward and share the secrets to her family business’s huge success.
Business is booming for Mussel King, the Island business her late father Russell Dockendorff started in 1978. While Russell Dockendorff helped make PEI the largest producer of North America’s cultured mussels, Esther and her team took it a step further. Dockendorff, who remembers the first shipment of mussels that left the island for Calgary, her Dad getting the kids to help get the 180 kg shipment to the airport on time, and help stop a leaking container, is now overseeing the growing and shipping of the premium fresh and frozen Prince Edward Island Blue mussels in shell to far flung growing markets in the Persian Gulf, Japan, Europe, Israel, Egypt and China.
“If you want to get into business you really have to want to get into business because it’s your life – it’s not an 80 per cent life, you have to have a fire in your belly.” she said.
Their customers have grown, but so have their products. A key to their ongoing success is innovation and adaptability.
With the support of the provincial government, Mussel King has stepped from the low-margin commodity market to the production of more lucrative value-added products like “Mussels in Minutes.”
Dockendorff has some advice for aspiring Island entrepreneurs before you approach government with an idea – make sure it is well hatched and be prepared to work hard.
“Government is not a cash cow, you’ve got to have ideas that make sense and you’ve got to be able to make money. Don’t go to government if it doesn’t make sense,” she said. “It’s Islanders’ money and we’re putting it to work for Islanders. This government is very supportive and Premier MacLauchlan is “very driven for business success,” she said.
We approached government with our ideas and a solid business plan and we were very happy they supported us.”
Trout River Industries founder Harvey Stewart solved a worldwide problem in the heavy trucking industry with an innovation developed right here in Prince Edward Island.
Getting a load out of a dump truck trailer used to mean raising the trailer to a severe angle so the contents could tumble out the back. That is, until the people at Trout River, which is located in Coleman PEI, invented a live bottom conveyor trailer that can be backed in anywhere — including onto uneven ground and near power lines – eliminating the need for a backhoe to pick up the dumped load and transport it.
Stewart’s trailer can now be found in virtually every corner of the world. It’s a safer, more efficient and versatile way to do all kinds of work – but it might not have happened if he had listened to some who told him it didn’t make financial sense.
“Entrepreneurs who really believe in their idea should jump in and take a risk rather than wait for circumstances to be perfect,” Stewart said.
“If you do something badly enough long enough and you make enough mistakes, you will surprise yourself; there’s always a better way.”
Stewart and his business partner Darrin Mitchell built their first trailer in 1999 and have kept the company privately held ever since. They are now Canada’s largest live bottom trailer manufacturer and have done business in the Middle East, South Africa, Jordan and Australia.
“It’s unbelievable how small the world is,” he said. “You can be anywhere, from PEI, within 24 hours.”
Stewart credits his success to his dogged determination from an early age. Raised on a farm in western PEI as one of 12 children, he was always fixing things and studied welding in college.
“When we were growing up and would get 40 inches of snow, my father would say somebody’s got to get out and start plowing the road,” he said. “The first pass was never perfect, but then the second plow would widen the road and people could get out and shovel and drive comfortably. Nothing ever happened until somebody got out there and did something.”