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Alvinston company wins BBB award

Chad Hayter, seen here with a few of The Hayter Groups’ 34 employees, says it was teamwork which lead to the Alvinston company being given the Better Business Bureau of Western Ontario’s Business Integrity Award.


Chad Hayter says it takes a team to make a great company.

The head of The Hayter Group in Alvinston made the comments recently at an employee breakfast which, in part, was a celebration of the company being given the Better Business Bureau of Western Ontario’s Business Integrity Award.

Hayters was one of 400 companies secretly nominated for the award. It was one of 40 who made a presentation to the judges in London.

Hayters is the first company in Lambton County to win the award.

At the company breakfast, Hayter thanked the men and women who helped the company earn the award. “It’s unfortunate that it is my picture that gets taken for a lot of the recognition we’ve received,” says Hayter. “It’s not one person but all the people who make it happen.”

Brooke-Alvinston Mayor Don McGugan was on hand for the breakfast and says the award is fitting. “Integrity; it is just the value we have in rural Ontario and it is reflected in your company,” the mayor said before presenting Hayter with a plaque.

“We know you have three sites now (Alvinston, Chatham and Cambridge) but we want to be able to keep the world headquarters in Alvinston because you contribute immensely to the community.”

Hayters donates $1,000 to a worthy charity every quarter. Part of the Better Business award includes a $2,500 scholarship provided by a Rotary Club in London. Hayter says the company will take application from people known to Hayter employees, choose the best three and then allow the Rotary Club to chose the winning scholar.

Getting ready to help the needy at Christmas

There was lots of chili to go around as Christ Anglican Church held its annual fundraiser for Christmas for Everyone on Friday. The tables were full through most of the luncheon which raised $1,000 for the Christmas drive. Here, Jean St. Pierre helps Lynn McPhail get a bowl of the famous chili.

 The Petrolia Foodbank is now accepting applications for people in need of food hampers and toys at Christmas. Last year 425 boxes were given out in Central Lambton to Grand Bend. Organizers expect this year 460 may be needed.

Research Park turning around


A new financing arrangement at The Research Park of Sarnia-Lambton will give it better footing and insulate taxpayers from risk.

A year ago, the Research Park underwent drastic restructuring after its biggest tenant pulled out. Staffing was cut and a new administrator was hired to find new tenants. It also asked Lambton County – the owner of the park through a development corporation – said it could not repay its debt and asked for one year to turn things around.

The new executive director, Tom Strickler, says things are looking up. Occupancy at the Modeland Road facility went from about 40 percent to 75 percent now – and that means more money coming in. He expects by the end of the year, The Research Park could be 85 percent full.

And he says the Bowman Research Centre’s occupancy is also up six fold. “We are establishing ourselves as a leader in the biochemical industry, expand that into the chemical industry,” says Strickler.

The Research Park will begin repaying its debt soon under a new plan recently approved by county council. John Innes, general manager of financial services, says the board of directors will be going to the open market to secure a new mortgage for The Research Park instead of borrowing from the county. Innes expects the rates will be cheaper and The Research Park will have to repay about $550,000 less a year.

“We are transforming the makeup and nature of debt and the timing and the nature of payback of the debt to become more flexible for the corporation,” says Innes. “The county is no longer the middle man…(the Research Park) will stand and it will fall based on the merits of its own operations.”

But Petrolia Mayor John McCharles was concerned taxpayers could still be liable for the debt. “If we turn off the lights…it all comes back to us,” he suggested to Innes at a recent county council meeting.

But Innes says this arrangement means if there were a problem, creditors could only be paid from the direct assets of the business park. “It is still owned by the county but debt is limited…it’s more of a business-like model.”








Local food hub in the works for Lambton

You may soon be able to buy all your local produce in one spot.

The sustainable food group One Tomato is putting together a business plan for a local food hub.

Spokesperson Megan O’Neil-Renaud says the idea would be to have a main warehouse with cold storage in Sarnia so food service providers and homeowners would be able to access fresh local food in one place.

“The Front Door restaurant uses local food sources but it has to make multiple phone calls and drive around the country to get it,” says O’Neil-Renaud. “This would be one call and it would simplify it.”

O’Neil-Renaud says One Tomato has its eye on a large building in Sarnia and hopes to find funding to purchase it and convert some of the area to cold storage. “We don’t have cold storage in Lambton,” she says adding most of the locally grown apples have to be stored north of Lambton.

O’Neil-Renaud says the fine details of the plan have to be worked out but she says there will likely be a “store” and an online site to support it. “We’re looking at just in time delivery system, as we get orders for it …the producers would be able to bring it in,” she says. “There would also be a virtual element to it…producers can post what they have so people can go online and order it.”

One Tomato recently received verbal support from Lambton County for the project to help bolster any grant applications. O’Neil-Renaud says a local food hub is likely to cost about $1.5 million but there is money available. The provincial government has set aside $30 million to encourage local food production and she’s hoping to tap into that funding.

O’Neil-Renaud says groups like Lambton’s Food Coalition are pushing for 25 percent of food in places such as schools and nursing homes to be locally sourced, so there will be a need for the local food hub.

And she says, it will help local producers find a market for their goods. “You can’t have sustainable community without helping people who grow food,” she says. “If Vroylks’ (in Sarnia) has no where to take the potatoes, he has to market them on his own, if he has somewhere to take them he’ll want to continue farming.”

O’Neil-Renaud isn’t sure how long it will take to get the project off the ground.

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