Big things come from small packaging
When White Gables’ new product, Island Potato Soap, became so successful that the company couldn’t keep up with packaging demand, co-owner Pieter Ijsselstein knew he needed help.
Fortunately help came in the form of Tremploy, a non-profit organization that provides adults with intellectual disabilities work training, life skills, and support. Ijsselstein and his wife Geraldine hired Tremploy to help them package their scented soaps, which are made from discarded Island potatoes that would have otherwise landed in the green bin.
For more than 40 years Tremploy has helped participants with career decision making, skills enhancement, job search, and employment maintenance.
Tremploy Executive Director Joel Dennis said his clients are helping Island Potato Soap succeed.
“This is a new company without a lot of internal capacity; we are helping them scale up quicker.”
Dennis says the task of wiping each bar with a towel – and then carefully wrapping it in cellophane with the paper label -- is perfect for some of his clients who thrive in their ability to focus on and complete repetitive tasks.
“It is real work that needs to be done,” he said. “Our vocational training has always been a vital part of what we do. Some of our clients may not be able to work in the community without supports, but with these contracts our staff can support them as they work.”
Ijsselstein says he is thrilled with the quality of work he receives from Tremploy clients.
“Even if I was a big company and fully automated I would take this opportunity to engage the community and grow,” he said.“There is always room to do this kind of work.”
Tremploy client Kolton Hennessey, 20, is hoping to transition through the employee assistance program to a job in the community once he learns the skills.
Hennessey is very good at preparing Island Potato Soap for store shelves. In fact, the accuracy of the Tremploy staff for their first shipment of Island Potato Soap was 99.9 per cent, said Brent Gallant, Tremploy’s development officer.
“We do an assessment to determine their skill level, and the clients assigned to that particular contract are very meticulous in what they do,” he said. “Pieter and his wife were in and they were just blown away by how accurate the packaging was.”
Gallant has 14-16 clients working busily on several important jobs on any given day – many are preparing the Fit Kits for the Queen Elizabeth Hospital’s colorectal cancer screening mailout.
“It’s a great opportunity for our clients to showcase their skills,” Dennis said. “There are so many positives about it.”
As for White Gables, Ijsselstein hopes to find markets for Island Potato Soap across the country and around the globe. The next soap ingredient he is considering? Craft beer brewed on PEI.
And although he may outgrow the old-fashioned packaging method, Tremploy clients will be ready, willing and able to help another Island company get off the ground.