LAMBAC Client Wins Provincial Award:
Fish Farmer is 25th Anniversary Entrepreneur
The cold, clean water of Manitoulin Island was what originally attracted Mike Meeker. "I moved here specifically to grow fish," he explains. Twenty-five years ago, aquaculture was not a common business. Now, Meeker's Aquaculture ships about 900,000 pounds of rainbow trout a year, and has a strong spin-off business selling garden compost made from fish waste.
The amazing growth of two businesses made Mike and Sharon Meeker ideal candidates to be recognized as outstanding 25 year entrepreneurs. They were honored recently, when the 25th Anniversary of the Community Futures program was celebrated at the Annual Conference of the Ontario Association (OACFDC) held in Niagara Falls. The Community Futures program was created by the federal government 25 years ago to assist small businesses and economic development in rural communities.
Meeker's Aquaculture and Meeker's Magic Mix were nominated for the 25th Anniversary Entrepreneur Award by LAMBAC, a Community Futures Development Corporation (CFDC) located in Gore Bay. Manager Mary Nelder thought of Mike's innovative and thriving business as a prime example of a business that is going strong after receiving assistance from a CFDC 25 years ago.
When Mike sought funding to start his business, banks and investors were skeptical about aquaculture. He went to the newly-opened CFDC seeking a loan from then-manager Marg Hague. "Of course, aquaculture was a totally new industry everywhere, but on Manitoulin it was very new. He was on the cutting edge in this field," Hague says. She gave him a start-up loan. "It was actually the first cheque that LAMBAC issued," she adds.
Cranston's Tree ServicesIn 2005, with assistance from LAMBAC Cranston's Tree Services was started on Manitoulin Island when owner Tom Cranston of Spring Bay had a dream to work for himself and was willing to work hard to make it happen.
"LAMBAC was there for me when I needed them for direction to create the business plan, register the business and start the book keeping. Over the years the staff at LAMBAC have been an excellent resource and support. LAMBAC continues to be a great partner and resource whenever I need them."
Cranston’s Tree Services started with big ideas, a wood chipper and stump grinder offering services of Tree removal, Brush Chipping and Stump removal. Company plans expanded rapidly and in the first 3 months had purchased a 35 foot man lift to expand into the areas of line clearing and taking down problem trees over buildings. In 2007 they expanded further purchasing a 60 foot man lift.
Cranston’s Tree Services today offer expanded services including Tree Removal and trimming, Brush Chipping, Stump Grinding, Lot & Line Clearing, Barn Repairs, Lift Services and Chainsaw Safety Training.
Owner Tom Cranston is certified by Workplace Safety North as a Professional Chainsaw & Professional Cable Skidding Trainer. He is recognized by Workplace Safety North to train professional loggers in Ontario and also provides Personal Chainsaw Safety Training.
Cranston’s Tree Services staff work for both private land owners as well as municipalities, school boards, hospitals, & churches.
"Starting my business was one of the best things that ever happened and my only regret is I should have started it sooner. I would not have taken the chance and started this business without the support and encouragement of LAMBAC."