Friends and neighbours,
We are writing this with frustrated heavy hearts and ask for your immediate help.
We, Greg and Tina Brooks have been operating Brooks Pepperfire Foods Inc. in Rigaud, Quebec for the last six years. We have grown our company to become a nationally recognized innovative leader in the development and processing of products using fresh chilli peppers. The Peppermaster™ brand has been available in Canada since 2004.
In 2007 we were given a mandate from TransFair Canada to create the market for Fair Trade Certified chilli peppers. Last year, we were named one of Canada’s Top Ten Food Innovators. We bring international attention to our little corner of the world with our Fair Trade Pepperfire Initiative and are a wonderful asset to the community. Tina sits on the board for the Local business association, l’AGAR. We are packaging products for other companies around Quebec: Auberge Gallant, Restaurant Mesquite and Restaurant Bofinger, and also for companies in Ontario; ChefJono and Jake Albert’s Fine Foods.
Indeed, many of you, our honoured chiliheads and culinary explorers have been following our progress since the very beginning. Nowadays, as you know, we regularly receive interest from International companies asking us to supply them with our products.
We are expecting orders from several International companies, once the economic situation improves, including the US and France and those in Dubai who have had opportunity to examine our products. Phase I of our business plan had us approaching our millionth dollar in sales this year.
We were fortunate enough, in the fall of 2008, to be chosen as one of several companies in our area to participate in a business incubation project with our Local government sponsored Center for Local development. The project was to last a year and would serve to bring Brooks Pepperfire Foods Inc. to the next level. We would receive personal support from a group of business coaches who were sold to us as our own personal board of directors. They were going to summarize our Phase I activities selling Peppermaster products, and help us develop a plan both technical and financial to create jobs and expand our business.
Phase II itself involved several growth activities, the first of which, on the local front, would see us launching our brand new, fresh chilli salsa line, made with Quebec grown ingredients first. This was to be announced on May 23rd, with these products beginning to be sold throughout Quebec in the grocery store chains beginning in mid-june. We are currently in discussions to distribute with a Quebec-based broker. According to our research, there are currently no local salsa producers selling in the Quebec market, but Quebeckers eat imports of $20,000,000 a year; a lot of salsa. Initial feedback from our market testing indicates that Quebeckers will jump all over the ONLY Quebec-made salsa on the market.
The continuing success of our Peppermaster™ brand, our co-packing contracts and the new salsa production require a move into a larger facility which will allow ISO 22000 and HACCP certification. The move to our new location was to occur in August, we were expecting to sign the final lease offer this week. We had originally hoped to create 3 new jobs when the jars arrive from Italy and another 9 jobs would be created once we’d moved into the new facility, which would allow us to take advantage of our expanding production demands.
Phase III would see us expanding yet again and solidifying our global position as a world authority on the use and development of fresh chillies. This phase later sees us expanding into a production farm locally in Vaudreuil-Soulanges. This agricultural center would allow us to grow our own Quebec chilli peppers creating a 100% Quebec grown, produced and distributed salsa line. Included with the farm was to be a chilli pepper educational/research facility that would be working with John Abbot College of McGill University to further the many agro-foods studies in which Quebec is already the scientific leader. Part of the farm expansion included a plan for a 100% green, sustainable farm that would enable us to participate in training agro-foods students both from Quebec and from emerging market countries to learn how to manage and run such facilities throughout Quebec and in their home countries. The plan also included an international humanitarian side with its support and succour of the Fair Trade Certified commitment.
It was our original intent to make three announcements at the Press Conference we have called for May 23rd. Firstly we would announce the status of our development project and that we would be progressing to the financing stage of our CIDEM-Techno project. Secondly, we would announce that we were ready to launch the new salsa line which would bolster revenues for our new processing facility. Thirdly, we would announce that with the help of Classic Events, we are launching a fundraiser to help Roland Hippolyte, a Haitian farmer who supplies us with chilli peppers, to rescue his farm which had been destroyed during the last hurricane season, for the second season in a row. Many of you are familiar with the help we provide for Roland as Tina has written about it on her blog.
All of these projects have been stopped dead in their tracks because we have just found out that CIDEM-Techno has closed their doors. The Canada Economic Development Agency did not renew their funding. It feels like we’ve had the carpet pulled out from beneath our feet jeopardizing all of our activities or at least delaying them unnecessarily. The trickle-down effect of who could be negatively affected by this concerns us greatly.
Without CIDEM-Techno to help us complete Phase II of the project, we are in the dubious position of having most everything in place to move forward, except the completion of our proposal, which we require for bank or institutional financing. We do believe that our Federal MP and local MNA will both be able to help hook us up with the professional and technical resources that we need to continue moving forward but fear that the amount of time required, for them to help is too risky. We believe that our economy needs these jobs now, not six more months down the road, certainly, our Haitian farmer cannot afford to wait another six months, nor can we. Greg and I have everything we own staked in the launch of the salsas and so, we have decided to launch the salsa line as planned on Saturday, but with a little twist.
As we are ever resourceful and dedicated entrepreneurs we have developed a plan that we believe will save all of our projects. But we need YOUR help. The ‘Sexy Salsa Financing Project’ (attached) will by-pass large financial, federal and provincial ‘support’ and appeal directly to you. We will show you that you can take action that will make an economic difference in our local community. The financing project will launch on May 23rd at the press conference. If enough people participate, we can generate enough funds, with your help, to continue our endeavours. We are not asking for handouts or a loan, we are asking you to pre-purchase one case of our new salsa line to help us create positive change now.
We anticipate that Phase II will be able to resume very soon, however, Greg and I do not have the knowledge or expertise to move forward alone. We still need technical and financial advice to obtain the resources we need. It is in this light that we burden you with our frustrations, hopes and dreams. We ask for your active support, and the support of anyone in your network to send everyone you can to the Sexy Salsa Financing Project link on our website. Order your case of salsa for the summer now.
We thank you for your support on May 23rd as we announce our plans. It is your helping hand that will allow us to continue our activities.
Thank you and eat lots of salsa.
Tina Brooks & Greg Brooks