Jiffy Group is a Norwegian company with a mission to ‘provide growers (whether agricultural, horticultural, silvicultural or home) with the highest quality media, media containers, seeds and other supporting products or services’.
Founded in the 1950s, Jiffy’s first contact with North America was a 1976 investment in New Brunswick, and the creation of Jiffy Products (N.B.) Ltd. Over the years, Jiffy Products has grown from a small four-machine plant to a multi-purpose facility manufacturing a variety of peat-based products. Now, on the company’s 40th anniversary in Atlantic Canada, they are expanding again.
Opportunities NB (ONB) spoke to Zoël Gautreau, Executive Vice President, to learn more.
ONB: First, what brought a Norwegian company to New Brunswick?
Gautreau: Initially it was about raw materials, New Brunswick simply had the resources we needed. Now, however, it’s as much about human capital. We have highly-qualified people here as it relates to the research and development of new innovative technology and equipment. We operate a state-of-the-art machine shop here to manufacture our own equipment. Our engineering staff is highly-skilled, and provide our customers with machines like seeders, graders, and transplanters. We’re able to offer real key-in-hand solutions from New Brunswick.
Part of what we’re announcing today involves the creation of a new robotics research centre. We have long been manufacturing robots for our own needs, as well as those of our sister companies. Now we are going to be able to offer robotics solutions for our customers as well. That’s going to be huge for us, and a very exciting piece of our New Brunswick investment.
ONB: Where are your customers exactly?
Gautreau: I would estimate that 75-80 percent of our market is in the United States, but we ship products across the globe now.
ONB: What exactly gets manufactured here?
Gautreau: In New Brunswick we focus on two primary products. We take peat and recycling paper and bind them together and form different size pots, what we call the Jiffypot®. We also produce a propagation product, Jiffy-7, which is peat with aggregate fertilizer dried and compressed into pellet form. Add water and it expands to seven times its original form. We also do a peat-based substrate that can used to fill those Jiffypots.
Innovation is key for us of course, and we have several major R&D projects on the go. If/when those initiatives make the move to the product launch phase that will mean building new equipment. With our new facility we will have more than enough space to make that happen easily.
ONB: How big is the New Brunswick team now?
Gautreau: We are at just over 200 people in this province now. Another part of today’s announcement is the creation of up to 50 new positions over the next seven years of operation. Some of that will be in the aforementioned robotics research centre but we also plan to expand our production capacity, so we’ll need machine operators as well.
ONB: Can you speak to the relationship between ONB and Jiffy?
Gautreau: Jiffy Group is prioritizing its operations in certain key strategic locations across each continent. This new facility will be its hub for all of the North and South American markets.
There were other jurisdictions within Jiffy Group competing to become this hub. There was no easy way to expand on our current location, but we found this new facility just 15 minutes down the road in Pokemouche. We brought the expansion idea to ONB and they supported us tremendously. I can say with confidence that your support was the major factor in convincing our shareholders that this was the place for this development.
The support ONB brought to this project coupled with that human capital I mentioned convinced shareholders to invest more in New Brunswick. We’ve built real expertise here over 40 years and Jiffy is thrilled to have the Province of New Brunswick as a growth partner.
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