As a leader, why do you think there’s value in being a member of NBBC, given its role in building a better New Brunswick?
I was lucky enough to be appointed to NBBC by the Wallace McCain Institute. I raised my hand to be a NBBC member because I think it’s important for business leaders in the province to speak in a unified voice. We can have more meaningful impact as a group than if we were to work separately. It’s as much about teamwork as it is about leadership.
The New Brunswick Business Council works collectively toward common goals, deciding upon actionable priorities so we can make real progress toward those objectives. By aligning, we have a louder voice. That way, we’re more easily heard, so we can help make New Brunswick a better place to live and do business.
How do you define success?
We’ve been successful in that when my wife, Rosalyn, and I bought the business, we set out to grow it 3% annually. We never set out to grow at the rate we are, which averages about 35% per year. But, success in business isn’t all about the products you develop, the marketing campaigns you launch, and the money you make.
Running a healthy, profitable business is what enables us to take action on other success metrics like developing talent and continuing to be a socially responsible company. Of course, we need to make money in order to make those things happen. Developing our employees, creating more leaders in the province, and supporting the community that’s supported Mrs. Dunster’s for so many years, well, those things are all arguably more important indicators of success than profit margins.
What’s an interesting fact about your business most people don’t know?
Mrs. Dunster’s is the largest family-owned bakery in all of Atlantic Canada. Twice every week we supply products to 600 stores (so pretty much all the grocery stores in the area) and 200 restaurants. Not many people know that we start every day with zero inventory! Absolutely everything is baked fresh every single day.
What’s on your wish list for New Brunswick?
More than anything, I want to change the narrative about what’s possible in New Brunswick. Maritimers are humble by nature; we tend to downplay our successes. But, in doing this, we’re shortchanging ourselves—and the province as a whole. Too many young people are leaving because they believe there are better career opportunities elsewhere, negatively affecting not only our economy, but also morale.
Businesses in NB need to do a better job at celebrating our wins. It doesn’t need to be a million-dollar sale to warrant attention. Maybe it’s an investment in new equipment, or maybe it’s hiring immigrants and giving them a new life in this incredible place we call home. Sharing success stories of all sizes is what will give people hope and encourage them to stay and work in this province.
If you could offer people one piece of business advice, what would it be?
In the same way Mrs. Dunster’s has adopted a culture of celebrating our wins, this advice can also be applied on a personal level. Share your story! You never know who you may inspire along the way. You don’t need to be boastful about it, but it’s been proven that sharing successes breeds more success.
Building strong brands—both professional and personal—helps entrepreneurs scale up more quickly. Storytelling is an important part of that. By publicly sharing what’s working, we can bolster people’s confidence so they’re more willing to take greater risks and reap the rewards. That positive energy attracts better talent (who tend to stay longer), more customers (who want to support something worthwhile), and business partnerships that often open unexpected doors to new opportunities.
What motivates you?
What motivates me is two-fold: I feel responsible for maintaining the legacy of Mrs. Dunster’s, and I want to ensure we continue to support the many families that rely on us to put food on their table. If the business is successful, we can help people in our community be successful. So, long-term, sustainable job creation is certainly a motivation.
My wife motivates me, too. I admire how intuitive and smart she is. She complements my skillsets, so she’s a great partner in business and in life.
What is your proudest moment or greatest accomplishment to date?
There’s not any one moment or accomplishment; there are many—and that might actually be what I’m most proud of. Despite starting every morning with no inventory, our team somehow always manages to get the job done well.
Whether it’s a massive snowstorm, a piece of equipment breaking, or a power outage, we continually rise above any obstacle. I’ve seen our employees come to work on snowmobiles, or work 12 hour shifts to make sure we can deliver what we promised we would. It’s a testament to the dedication of the people we choose to employ. We couldn’t be more grateful.
Aside from our employees, we hear incredible stories from our customers. For example, we recently received an emotional email from someone who stopped in to visit us while in Sussex. The mother was writing to express his sincere gratitude about how his daughter, who has a nut allergy, was able to pick any treat she wanted to eat thanks to the fact that Mrs. Dunster’s is a tree nut-free, peanut-free facility. It’s stories like this that makes everything worthwhile.