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Canadian Syrup Inc. (Steeves Maples) Tapping into LearnSphere Resources for International Export Growth

Roger Steeves’ family has been tapping trees on a farm in Elgin, New Brunswick for generations. First established as a business in 1869, his ancestors collected sap in buckets and produced maple syrup out of a shed. As time passed and innovations were introduced, the Steeves family kept pace, adjusting, improving and expanding with the times. Canadian Syrup Inc. (Steeves Maples) is still located on the family farm but now operates out of a 12,000 square foot facility. It houses a full cook room as well as high-tech bottling and labeling equipment; an operation that employs more than a dozen local full and part-time staff and can produce up to 20,000 bottles of syrup a day. Canadian Syrup Inc. has been exporting maple syrup products overseas since 1990. Today, 99 per cent of the company’s products are sold internationally through distributor relationships in more than 20 countries including New Zealand, Australia, the U.K. and the United States, as well as several European and Asian countries.

The company’s flagship products are the original 100% Pure Maple Syrup and a second all-natural and lower priced product which tastes virtually the same. Canadian Maple Taste Syrup was developed at the New Brunswick Research and Productivity Council and is made of natural cane sugar, a percentage of pure maple syrup purchased from local suppliers and an all natural flavour.

Chief Operating Officer Jamie McGloin started working with Steeves a year ago with a mission to expand its international distributor network. With a rich background in business marketing and development, McGloin came equipped with ideas, strategies and an appreciation for government programs that could support this goal.

McGloin contacted LearnSphere Canada. He explained that the company’s first priority was to redesign the entire branding model, starting with the company website and transferring into hard copy marketing materials for distribution at global trade shows.

“The world is high-tech now and the first thing we needed to do was develop a new website that will help us market ourselves to people who are distributors and brokers in other parts of the world,” says McGloin. “We need them to know about who we are and what we do in a very succinct way.”

LearnSphere staff told McGloin about two New Brunswick initiatives, managed by LearnSphere Canada with financial assistance from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.

E-Tools for Exporting (E for E) and the Export Market Access Program (EMAP) are funding programs designed to help New Brunswick-based small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) grow their international export markets.

The E-Tools for Exporting program provides financial assistance to help businesses develop and integrate electronic tools that promote more efficient business practices and support international export market growth. Eligible activities include website development, redesign or rebranding, responsive web design conversion, integration of e-commerce functionality, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), paid electronic advertising, social media strategy or integration, videos, online catalogues, website translation, the creation of language toggles and more.

The Export Market Access Program (EMAP) is also designed to increase international export performance. It provides funding for incremental activities that help businesses market themselves more effectively and enhance overall capabilities, networking and entrepreneurial skills. Eligible activities include marketing research or strategy development, export planning, mentoring/coaching to improve market research or exporting plans, lead generation and sales activities, development of offline promotional materials, and sales process mapping and/or sales automation requirements

With each of these programs, total project costs must be more than $5,000 in order to apply for assistance. LearnSphere contributes up to 65 per cent of project costs up to a maximum of $15,000.

McGloin knew E-Tools and EMAP would work perfectly to support the Canadian Syrup Inc.’s plans for international export growth and says he was impressed with LearnSphere’s swift and flexible application process.

“LearnSphere reacts like a business from a timing perspective,” he says. “They understand what we’re trying to accomplish as a company and that you need to move quickly when there’s an issue. LearnSphere’s timing really impacts how quickly we can go to market.”

The E-Tools for Exporting funding supported the company’s electronic activities involved in the website redesign and rebranding process – including a professionally produced video of the production facility. Through the EMAP funding, the redesign was able to extend into concrete marketing materials.

“Everything syncs together and looks consistent and that transfers over to our copy so that when we go to trade markets globally, we have professional looking pieces of information that we can bring to our distributor network.”

McGloin says programs like LearnSphere Canada’s E-Tools and EMAP are critical in enabling New Brunswick SMEs to compete in the global marketplace.

“If we want to compete internationally and be a world class organization, we need our e-tools and materials to be world class.”

For more information on Canadian Syrup Inc. (Steeves Maples), visit:

For more information on LearnSphere Canada’s Exporting programs, visit:

“LearnSphere reacts like a business from a timing perspective,” he says. “They understand what we’re trying to accomplish as a company and that you need to move quickly when there’s an issue. LearnSphere’s timing really impacts how quickly we can go to market.”

- Chief Operating Officer Jamie McGloin

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