Ty Diep, National Director of Quality Assurance, Regulatory Affairs and Applied Research
150 employees in Québec
Burnbrae Farms’ Upton Plant: Getting Cracking on Enhanced Performance
Burnbrae Farms’ processing plant in Upton is a place where millions of eggs are broken every day! The plant has come a long way since its humble beginnings in the 1960s. Its most recent project will make it even more productive so it can remain competitive.
The Upton plant is the largest liquid egg production facility owned and operated by Burnbrae Farms, a company that has some ten facilities across Canada. “We crack, pasteurize and package eggs in a variety of containers, ranging from small 250-gram cartons to 23,000-kilo tanker trucks,” explains Ty Diep, now National Director of Quality Assurance, Regulatory Affairs and Applied Research, who was responsible for the plant until recently. “Our eggs are used by businesses and organizations ranging from producers of cakes and mayonnaise to retailers, cafeterias, hospitals and hotels across the country.”
The recipe for productivity
Over the years, the plant has undergone many expansions, including one that was carried out in 2012 with the assistance of Investissement Québec (IQ). At that time, the facility was enlarged by 5,700 sq. ft., 50 jobs were created and production was increased by 25%.
In 2019, plant management decided to go even farther, so they launched a project that would enable them not only to add space but also to modernize the facility. “Most of all, we wanted to improve our productivity so we could process the maximum amount of eggs in the available space, at the lowest possible cost,” states Mr. Diep. “To do that, we had to acquire better-performing equipment. Our goal was to remain competitive and attractive for our major industrial customers, many of which are located in the Greater Toronto Area.”
Since warehouse space was inadequate, new refrigerated rooms were necessary, but the most urgent need was to reconfigure the plant. The production process had to be optimized while minimizing unnecessary movements of merchandise and employees between the different areas of the plant.
A $14.2-million project launched in 2018 paved the way for construction of an additional 37,000-sq.-ft. building. The installation of new equipment and the retrofit are now under way and should be completed by December 2020.
A few hurdles along the way
Before becoming a reality, the project came up against some difficulties. Finding a site that suited both the company and the municipality was a real challenge. Issues related to drinking water supply and wastewater treatment also had to be resolved. “These questions had caused us to lose some investment projects a few years ago,” adds Mr. Diep. “We wanted to make sure history didn’t repeat itself.”
That’s why as soon as Mr. Diep started thinking about the new project, he contacted the team at IQ’s International Subsidiaries Department to ask for their advice. “We wanted to stay in Upton, but we also had to consider moving to another municipality,” according to Mr. Diep. “Changes in our customer base meant we had to think about getting closer to the Ontario market. So we needed to quickly find a solution to ensure that the investment would be made in Upton.”
Turning the situation around
A meeting organized by IQ was a key turning point. The meeting, which brought together the owners of Burnbrae Farms, representatives from the Ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation and representatives of IQ, proved that the stakeholders were ready to mobilize to support the Upton plant’s project. “Our employees’ expertise and our plant’s excellent performance really tipped the balance in our favour. We were impressed by the support offered and we decided to execute the project here,” recalls Mr. Diep.
After that, discussions with the municipality went smoothly, thanks largely to the services of a consultant recommended by IQ. “I think entrepreneurs would really benefit from knowing more about the services offered by IQ’s teams,” says Mr. Diep. “Personally, I was able to rely on outstanding support: I found true partners whose assistance went well beyond financial support.” The Upton plant is now working on new projects, one of which will diversify its activities, and its management team definitely intends to partner with IQ again.
About Burnbrae Farms
Burnbrae Farms is a Canadian company owned by the Hudson family since it was founded in 1893. Active in five provinces, the company has 10 plants and several farms and focuses on egg production and processing. The Upton plant was built in the early 1960s and purchased by Burnbrae Farms in 1983. At that time, it employed a dozen people; today more 150 employees work there.