“Working with the guys from Summerside Electric and the City of Summerside has just been fantastic. They’ve been great mentors.”
Stash Energy’s technology works in conjunction with a heat pump to store energy when it is at its cheapest point of the day for use to help heat
the home during more expensive peak hours.
Stash Energy, based in Fredericton, was co-founded by Jordan Kennie, Daniel Larsen and Erik Hatfield. Kennie and Hatfield are from New Brunswick while
Larsen is from Belfast, P.E.I. All three are students at UNB completing their masters in engineering entrepreneurship.
Since 2015 they’ve been working to create a device that uses smart grid technology to take cheap off-peak energy and store it thermally using a unique
compound they created to do the job and are working to patent. That stored energy can then be used during peak hours when electricity is more expensive.
The system works in conjunction with a heat pump. It’s comparable in size and look to a standard hot water tank
New Brunswick energy storage Startup Stash Energy is getting ready to launch a pilot program to test their technology in Summerside as part
of the Living Lab initiative. Stash Energy was founded by, from left: Daniel Larsen, Jordan Kennie, and Erik Hatfield. Rob Blanchard Photo
UNB University of New Brunswick
“Working with the guys from Summerside Electric and the City of Summerside has just been fantastic. They’ve been great mentors.”
The partnership came about because Larsen listened a presentation from the city during one of his classes at UPEI, which he
attended prior to UNB. He was impressed with the level to which the city was willing to support emerging and innovative electrical technology.
A couple of years later, when the group started to work on their technology, Larsen approached the city.
It’s great to be able to take an innovative project like this to the next level in his home province, said Larsen.
“I like that P.E.I. is doing something innovative and I think it reflects well on the Island,” he said.
“A lot of much bigger players look up to what Summerside is doing,” he added.
If the Stash Energy pilot project goes well, the company hopes to start offering units for sale within a couple
of years. They estimate their systems could save homeowners another 30 per cent on their heating
costs in addition to savings from a heat pump. “Big picture for the company would be to have one of these (systems)
in every home. But realistically, if one in four New Brunswick homes had our unit, heat pump and storage, we would be
able to decommission one of our coal generating stations,” said Kennie.
Jordan Fraser, founder of BamText, hopes to have one million people using his texting service by 2018.
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – BamText, a Charlottetown-based customer engagement company,
is projecting to increase their yearly users by nearly 400,000 in just one year.
Our business is based around how people communicate, and texting is the
fastest growing communication
tool in the world Jordan Fraser
“Our business is based around how people communicate, and texting is the fastest growing
communication tool in the world,”said BamText founder Jordan Fraser. BamText partners with
businesses across Canada and the United States, and sets up a feedback service, which allows
customers to text the store’s manager directly if they have a complaint while at there. BamText is
great for both the customers and the businesses, Fraser said. “It helps the customer get their problem
solved quickly. For businesses, it decreases the chances that the person is going to take to social media
and rant about their bad experience, which is something they don’t want to happen.”
Fraser had the idea for the company in 2013 after he had to wait for nearly half an hour, unattended,
at a sunglass store, before leaving in anger. “There had to be a way for me to let that manager know
about how bad my experience was there,” he said. Fraser searched for apps to do this, but didn’t
find any good ones. That’s when he thought of a texting service. He approached Keir Pollard, a
developer at the electronic company Fraser had been working at, with the idea. The two began
thinking about how this would work. “We knew it had to be free, simple and instant. The whole
idea is if I have a problem at a restaurant and text the manager, they get my complaint right
away and can do something about it.” After six weeks of development, BamText launched on
Feb. 12, 2014 and had its first client within two weeks. Since then, BamText has partnered
up with companies like A&W, Circle K, Pita Pit, as well as many small, local businesses
across Canada and the United States. They’ve increased their yearly users from 30,000
in their first year, to 110,000 in their second, to 280,000 in their third, and are projecting
to have roughly 700,000 by the end of 2017. Fraser said he’s surprised by the company’s
rapid success. “We’re only six people who work at BamText, and over the past three years
roughly 500,000 people have used our system. It’s incredible.” Along with the customer
feedback service, BamText also offers a text-voting product at food events, where people
attending can vote for their favourite dish. BamText also introduced a service last year that
allows golfers on the course to text their food and drink orders to the manager, and have it
delivered it to them. Looking ahead, Fraser wants to have one million people using BamText
by 2018, a goal he knows won’t be easy. “It’s a big number. We’d have to nearly double the
number of users BamText had last year, but if things keep going like this, I’m confident
we’ll be able to hit it by 2018.”
The City of Summerside has partnered with international tech giant Samsung to test a
massive solar energy battery.
Summerside Mayor Bill Martin shakes hands with Steve Cho, president of Samsung Renewable Energy, during an announcement
at Credit Union Place Thursday.
The pilot programs’ proponents are touting it as a first in Canada.
Samsung Renewable Energy Inc. and city made the announcement Thursday. The project will coincide
with a solar energy project the city had previously announced for Credit Union Place (CUP) in an effort to
shrink the facility’s massive electrical bill. The city pays more than $380,000 annually to power the facility
and the battery and solar panels are expected to save the CUP a little more than $100,000 annually.
Thursday’s announcement was the culmination of a lot of hard work by a string of people from P.E.I.
to Korea, where Samsung is based, said Summerside Mayor Bill Martin. “This was a year in the
making … our agreement for this project is 510 pages long, for Phase I. So it took a lot of work,
a lot of back and forth. So I would say (I’m) a combination of extremely excited, proud and relieved,”
Other Samsung Renewable Energy Inc. projects going on in Canada
Martin also said that this is phase one in what could be a three-part project with Samsung. It all
depends on how this initial pilot project goes, but the two parties have signed a memorandum of
understanding regarding all three phases. Phase one involves constructing a shipping container-sized
battery and integrating it into CUP’s electric system. The battery will be fed power from 1,300
solar panels the city plans to build on a portion of the facility’s current parking lot. The battery
will store excess energy and pump it into the building during peak use hours. To accommodate
the build, one of the outdoor beach volleyball courts will be moved. The city does not expect to lose
any parking spaces as a result of the solar panels. Phase 2, if it happens, will include the construction
of a new solar/wind farm. This phase would bump the percentage of electricity the city gets from
renewable sources from 46 per cent to 70 per cent. Phase three would include investment in more electric
pilot projects, such as infrastructure for electric vehicles and a smart grid system. Martin said he expects
Phase 1 to be completed sometime this fall. The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency is providing $1.5 million
to the battery project, as is the city, for a total of $3 million in public funding. Steve Cho,
president of Samsung Renewable Energy Inc., said Thursday that his company has been welcomed
graciously into Summerside and they are looking forward to getting to work. “Summerside has the
great potential to evolve into the best smart grid community in Canada,” said Cho.
“We believe that Summerside is the right place to adopt more emerging technology and build energy infrastructure
on the community scale. “Today’s announcement is the first step towards achieving this great vision … and
we are very excited to enter into the more refined design stage of the project.”
Solar farm will be installed at Credit Union Place
The federal government has stepped in with some money for a large solar energy project on P.E.I.
ACOA is providing a grant of $1.5 million for a solar energy gathering and storage system at Credit Union Place, the major sports
facility in Summerside.
The project will reduce the city’s reliance on carbon-based energy production.
“The city of Summerside’s Smart Storage demonstration project is an excellent example of the sort of innovative solutions that
will drive our economy into the future,” said Navdeep Bains, the federal minister responsible for ACOA, in a news release.
The total cost of the project has been previously estimated at $3 million, and the city has said it is willing to contribute $1.5 million,
because it expects to save about $100,000 a year in energy costs.
The solar panels would go on green space behind CUP. There had been previous discussion of placing some of the panels in a parking lot,
which would have cost about 10 parking spaces, but that idea has since been dropped.
Gaudet said it’s difficult to have a clear estimate on costs right now because the costs of solar panels have
changed so much recently. He said generally speaking, the panels could cost between $1.2- 1.5 million.
He said that’s $2.40/watt, and overall this project would be about 600 kilowatts.
There will also be the battery system aspect of the project, and Gaudet said there is no estimate for that right now.
Mayor Bill Martin said this project could be a done deal by next summer
Mayor Bill Martin said this initiative is part of a bigger plan.
“Our long term plan is to have somewhere in the neighbourhood about a 15 megawatt solar farm,” said Martin.
“Obviously it won’t be located anywhere near downtown Summerside, but it will be connected to our grid system,
which would get us up to about 70 per cent green energy.”
Martin believes this initial project will be in the works next year.
Forestry.io is a content management tool for websites.
A Charlottetown tech start-up is aiming to be at the “leading edge” of website management.
Forestry.io is a content management tool for websites. Once a website has been designed, Forestry.io can be used to keep it updated.
‘We’d like to hire some of the brightest minds in the region, and build really cool products and build a world-class business from here.’– Scott Gallant
Co-founder Scott Gallant says the service only launched four months ago, and it already has 5,000 users worldwide.
“We see this as the future of the web,” he said. “In a few years, we think, no developer will use a site like WordPress and, all developers will use the platforms that we support and we just want to be at the leading edge of that.”
The company was accepted into the accelerator program Tech Stars, which offered three months of mentoring and $125,000 US in financial support.
Six people are employed now with Forestry.io, Gallant said, and they’re looking to hire a programmer, a designer and some administrative help in the next few months.
Gallant hopes to eventually take the company public, like Ottawa-based Shopify did a couple of years ago.
“We’d like to hire some of the brightest minds in the region, and build really cool products and build a world-class business from here.”
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.