MONCTON – Distillerie Fils du Roy of Petit-Pacquetville continues making its mark in the province’s business world, this time winning business of the year 2019 from Conseil Économique du Nouveau-Brunswick (CÉNB), which has now been representing the Francophone business community for 40 years.
The announcement was made at an awards gala at the Delta Beausejour in Moncton on Saturday.
Sébastien Roy, who founded the company with his mother Diane, says this means a lot for him because the CÉNB is an organization that inspired him since he was in university and he shares its values.
“They have those values of [entrepreneurship], that we have to take our economy to share, those were all my values, it really inspired me,” he said. “They were always saying that it’s important to be united and to fight for economic prosperity here in New Brunswick, so it’s like a dream come true.”
He says collaboration is important in New Brunswick, which has a population smaller than Ottawa. Organizations like CÉNB helps connect businesses across the province with each other.
“When you’re from a very tiny province, and you’re from a rural region, it’s important that we have all types of associations to work together. It’s the only way that we can change things in great ways and be competitive in the big world that we are in today,” he said.
Distillerie Fils du Roy, which also has operations in Quebec, has been growing quickly. In August, it started phase seven of its expansion plan by building New Brunswick’s first malt house and producing its own yeast. That would allow it total control of all steps of production and use barley from local farmers.
“Coming from a rural region, we spend a lot of money on transport from out West or companies that produce yeast in the U.S. or elsewhere. That creates a lot of pollution,” he said. “[The expansion] will create less pollution and we will be competitive just because of the [lower] cost of transportation.”
Roy says the craft sector in New Brunswick, covering everything from alcohol to soaps and other goods, is growing too.
“That’s because of the consumer. They’re the ones that choose local products and I think that’s good because multinational companies are very competitive and they’re more and more present in our territory. And the balance against that is local,” he said. “The more we buy local, the more we can create jobs in our region, the more we can prosper.”
In addition, tourists also bring money into the craft goods industry, he said.
“Each time a visitor comes here and buys a New Brunswick product, even if you’re a small craft brewer, distillery, or winery, it’s like those small businesses export outside of the province,” he said.
Four other companies from the province’s four corners were also awarded under the Popular Choice or Coup de cœur category, selected by CENB members.
Edmunston Truck Stop won for the northwest region, La Maison BeauSoleil took the award for the northeast, Croisières Shediac Bay Cruises was the winner for the southeast, and Chopin Coastal Health Solutions won for the southwest.
A 40th Anniversary Whiskey
Separately, Fils du Roy had also been working with CÉNB and graphic design company Atelier 46 to create a special brand of whiskey to commemorate CÉNB’s 40th anniversary.
The 300 bottles of whiskey launched Saturday are for sale to CÉNB members and the wider public for $200 each. The revenue will go towards scholarships for students at Université de Moncton and College Communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick.
More than 40 years ago, Francophones in the province were mostly involved in fisheries and agriculture and were just beginning to enter the manufacturing and construction fields. French post-secondary institutions also began to blossom, said CÉNB president and CEO Thomas Raffy.
CÉNB was started to give Francophone businesses a voice. Today, its membership includes municipalities, associations, individuals, and around 700 small-and-medium-sized businesses.
“Now we have businesses in their second and third generation, we have new businesses, we have immigrant entrepreneurs, and what connects us is entrepreneurship and the fact that we can do businesses in French,” he said.
“Today we have that voice and we’re striving as an organization to work with everyone to find solutions to some of the challenges that we’re facing.”
While the challenges of Francophone businesses are similar with their Anglophone peers, including labour shortages, access to new markets and the cost of doing business, there’s a bit of a difference.
Many Francophone businesses are in rural areas, especially in the north of the province, which contributes nearly 30 percent of the province’s GDP, Raffy said.
“It’s very significant, it’s just that being in a rural area comes with certain challenges,” Raffy said, noting dire demographic challenges and literacy issues. “That’s why we’re now focused on solutions like training, immigration, automation.”