Ryan Albright is the President and CEO of Covered Bridge Chips Potato Company – a potato chip producer based in New Brunswick.
You can learn more about their export success story here.
What was your first export sale?
I cannot recall exactly. However, our first chip sale was goodie baskets in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
How did that first export opportunity arise?
Our first show was the Natural Products Expo East in Boston in September of 2008, before we even had chip bags made or the plant was ready. We made bags out of paper and filled them with cotton to replicate how they would look and cooked a few batches and seasoned them by hand. We definitely were not ready! We met a lot of people at this show.
When it comes to exports, what do you know now that you wish you knew then?
I passed up on a lot of private label opportunities when I started in the US. Looking back I wish I had done a couple of them.
How has the trading world changed since you started in business?
The fluctuation of the US dollar has gone from 45 per cent to our dollar being worth 10 per cent more, to now back close to 40 per cent again. Presently it is a great time to export. However, do not base your costs on that. The dollar is volatile and can swing the other way in very short periods of time, so never assume it will stay where it is. Good companies have gone out of business because of this.
What is the #1 thing new SMEs need to know about export and trade?
Make sure you do your research on the company you are exporting to outside of North America, and learn about the people they buy from. Never sell outside the parameters of your insurance unless you are willing to accept you could lose that amount. I have been there and learned!
What do you do when you’re not working on your business?
I am always working, my mind never stops. I like to motorbike and snowmobile but doesn’t happen often enough. Work is work, but also my hobby.
About The Covered Bridge Potato Chip Company:
A potato chip producer (kettle chips) in New Brunswick Canada, established in 2008, Covered Bridge’s potato chips begin their journey in the dirt. The company plants, grows and harvests all potatoes on the family farm, just a quick trip down the road from the production facility. From there, they are washed, scrubbed, sliced and cooked at the plant.
Once clean, eight automated blades take only 15 seconds to thin-slice 65 pounds of potatoes. The uncooked slices of potato chips are then introduced into the kettle and cooked for just over five minutes to produce their signature crunch. A centrifuge removes excess oil and the newly made chips move down the line for inspection, where only the best make it to the final stages of production and into a bag.
You can visit the factory to watch the production and sample the still-warm potato chips right off the line.
Covered Bridge operates with 300 acres of potato production, a 27,000-square-foot office, a 35,000-square-foot raw goods warehouse, a 10,000-square-foot plant and 9,000 square feet of office space. In January 2016 the company reported to have 90 employees. As it undergoes its fourth expansion, it expects to hit 100 employees by the spring of 2016.