VOCL 008 – Would You Like Fries With That?

Twitter Show Summary: The NB Study Group’s 4th day on the road.  Places visited included the McCain factory and the Potato World restaurant in Florenceville-Bristol, a joint university/college in Edmunston, and an unexpected stop in Grand Falls. Intro Hi there!  Welcome to the 8th episode of the Voices of Canadian Leadership podcast. Tidying up the […]

Written By chris

On May 20, 2013

Read more

Show Summary: The NB Study Group’s 4th day on the road.  Places visited included the McCain factory and the Potato World restaurant in Florenceville-Bristol, a joint university/college in Edmunston, and an unexpected stop in Grand Falls.


Hi there!  Welcome to the 8th episode of the Voices of Canadian Leadership podcast.

  • Tidying up the website, trying to make it easier to get access to the info.
  • Working on increasing my knowledge of website (WordPress), including increasing the security measures.
  • Creating a spreadsheet to capture all the articles mentioned in this podcast, as well as other ones that I send to FB, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Summary of GGCLC so far:

  • A broad range of speakers from academia, business, and non-profit.
  • Already started touring NB, speaking with non-profit, businesses and political figures (including the Premier and Lt Gov.)

We will now look at the main topic of the show – the New Brunswick Study Group’s 4th day on the road as part of the 2012 GGCLC.  Let’s go back in time!


Main Feature

NB – 7 June 2012 – We Finally Get To See The Sun! (and a slight change of program) 

 At least there was no reveille. Yesterday evening our day ended up in CFB Gagetown barracks. In order to get just a little taste of what life is like for our young troops, the groups stayed in two rooms – one for each gender. We were introduced to military bedding, with 16 beds in a room that was approximately 4m x 6m. There weren’t any plugs for us to charge our electronics – we assume that the young recruits merely use these rooms for sleep. We must have some “closet” lumberjacks in the group since it sounded like more than a few were sawing logs throughout the night.

 Although pressed for time, we had a chance to eat breakfast with some of the troops. As per the day before, we found them very engaging and eager to talk to us. We didn’t get to spend much time with them, however, as it was time to hit the road to Florenceville.

 Employing 3,000 people in Canada and 19,000 worldwide, McCain has $6B in annual sales. The Florenceville facility employs 1,400 people, but the census population is only 850 – many folks come from out of town to work here. With such an overwhelming presence in a small population, we shudder to think what would happen to the area if the facility were to shut down or get relocated.

 Interestingly, one of every three french-fries sold anywhere in the world is made by McCain. There is 15,000kg of finished product per hour for each 30,000kg of potatoes coming in. Generally, 80% of potato gets used, and the remainder is starch waste or peelings. For those of you doing the math at home, it should be noted that some of the weight loss is simply due to evaporation of the moisture inside the potato. Regarding waste, the remainder is sold as animal feed/biogas materials – it appears that there are many cows eating french-fries! To try to maximize efficiency, biogas can be used to create steam for processing the potatoes.

 In processing potatoes, there is a fair amount of energy required; in Canada, electricity and fuel oil are the main sources, although alternate means are being looked at. The water use is also significant – it’s “footprint” is roughly equivalent to a city of 120,000 people.  90% or more is cleaned and returned to the environment, the remainder is lost through evaporation. Water cleaning costs are 15% of factory operations.

 We were then split into two groups. The first group went to visit the main McCain plant, and the second group went to the Potato Processing Technology Centre (PPTC). We got insight into how McCain generates innovative products and looks at new measures to minimize waste and optimize processing. They use the following innovation pillars: product development, fundamental and applied research group, process innovation, information and technology services, quality, and agronomy. The staff is very glad to be on the “cutting edge” of potato processing methodologies.

 Our tour guides ranged from people having been born and bred in the community, from across Canada, and to people coming from Africa. We had the opportunity to discuss various challenges and perceptions regarding sustainability. Being a “border town” in close proximity to Maine creates its own challenges for the local economy since most items are much cheaper across the border; although housing is more inexpensive in NB, the cost of living is much higher.

 Our visit to Florenceville concluded at the Potato World restaurant, located next to the PPTC. There, we had a delicious meal where everything contained potatoes. We had baked potato soup, regular and sweet potato fries, and had a chocolate potato cake with fudge frosting. We also had a chance to continue our discussions with the various leaders at McCain who graciously hosted us for lunch, including Allison McCain. Our exit of the facility (which also has a potato museum) even afforded us the first view of the sun since entering NB!

Potato World Museum

Potato World Museum

Having finished our Westerly travels, we headed north to Edmunston. This unique location is not only close to the border with Maine, but also of Quebec. Our stop was at the location of both the Community College and Universite de Moncton campus d’Edmunston. This is a unique facility since, although the educational institutions are separate in terms of scholastics and governance, they share common libraries, bookstores, student lounges, and cafeterias. This has allowed them to have nicer facilities that either would have been able to individually afford.

 Greeted by the mayor of Edmunston, the Executive Director of the 2014 World Acadian Congress (WAC) and Executives of both educational institutions, we were introduced to life in north-western NB. Economic development in the area is very difficult – students have a propensity to leave the area, but the area is working hard to get them back. In the meanwhile, French students from around the world are coming here.

The student dining area at NBCC Edmunston campus

The student dining area at NBCC Edmunston campus

We then switched focus to the 2014 WAC. With a budget of $12m, it is anticipated that there will be a $55m economic impact and improved infrastructure that will remain long after the event is over. They see much traffic passing by on the highway – the city wants these people to stop and enjoy Edmunston. The Congress has a goal of 120 families (family names) having their meeting in the area; they already have 62 officially committed. Assuming an average size of 500 people, this means that there could be up to 60,000 people partaking in the events. The events, which will be held in NB, Quebec, and Maine, will kick off at the area intersecting the three borders – this dawn event will be broadcast over social media websites.

 For dinner, we were introduced to the culinary program at the College. This state-of-the-art instruction facility impressed all of us but was no match for the quality of the food prepared by the two students. We ate cream of fiddlehead soup, chicken stew, some traditional buckwheat pancakes, pork medallions, pork pâté; the meal was concluded with a sweet maple mousse. We are eating so well due to our generous hosts – combined with a lack of exercise attributed to the hectic schedule, several people are worried about possible “wardrobe malfunctions” when it comes time for our presentations in Ottawa.

Cooking School at NBCC Edmunston Campus with Head Chef Don Thibeault

Cooking School at NBCC Edmunston Campus with Head Chef Don Thibeault

We then proceeded to Bathurst, but then fate turned against us. Our bus, which had been causing some minor problems since the start of the journey, decided to be rather stubborn and lose power. Pulling over in Saint-Leonard was not pleasant; we realized that whatever decision made would result in us having to modify our program and cut something out. Since a replacement bus was about six hours away and the road straight across NB is not recommended at night (it is a resource road) we decided to overnight in Grand Falls; this resulted in the disappointing cancellation of volunteering in Bathurst. Coincidences seem to be following us on our journey since Grand Falls is also the home of our New Brunswick chair, Robert Moreau. He was very glad that this unfortunate turn of events at least afforded him the opportunity to show us around.

Bus Issues in St Leonard

Bus Issues in St Leonard

Our goal is now to try to pick up the program while minimizing the impact on Friday’s schedule. As such, we have the pleasure of leaving at 5 AM as we start the eastern portion of the trip.

McCain Foods

Calla Farn at McCain

Calla Farn at McCain


  • Workforce recruitment challenge – need a lot of IT professionals
  • Don’t focus specifically on aboriginal communities, but focus on the province as a whole (as well as international).  No pent-up demand for people coming back to NB.  Focus on “away” staff since local people don’t have the necessary IT skills.
  • No cultural advisors for the 8 nations that they tend to target.


  • When looking at a facility, proximity to local suppliers and proximity to market are key drivers, not environmental aspects.
  • Looking at wind turbines, not a bad idea considering that they would be placed in an open farming area (no noise effect on neighbours).
  • Focussing on reducing waste use – 2-5%/year is the goal.  Annual review of factory design and water use.  Success has been shown in Ballarat (Australia) and India.
  • If they can satisfy themselves that they are doing no harm to the environment, that is the appropriate level.

Corporate giving

  • In Canada, decided to focus on feeding the hungry (Food Banks Canada) – donating a min of $1m in cash and food, new projects to feed the hungry in the communities where there are facilities.  Their biggest need from the program was to get a program that would engage their employees.  http://www.foodbankscanada.ca/

How can the government get out of the way – governments are too prescriptive (allow business to innovate).

The future of McCain

The future of McCain


  • Joseph Lake, Brian Ruff, Sherri Gerrow, Kingsley Agyare
  • Built in 2001, labs built in 2002 – the “pilot line” commissioned in 2004, has 32 team members
  • Capacity – 250kg/hr raw
  • $2500 vs $30,000/day in factory
  • Provides service and support to McCain business regions and customers
  • Respond to consumers regarding health and wellness
  • “Myth-busting” – Mike Kingsley – sodium replacement is “kookiest” thing, re-writing one step that has been done in one way over the past 10 years
  • People would stay in NB except the salaries aren’t there.
  • Coming to NB – potential to develop a PPTC, education sponsored, exciting to be part of pilot line, families like NB for community, scenery, incorporation of foreigners very positive

Lunch at Potato World

  • https://www.potatoworld.ca/
  • Alison McCain, when asked about what he would do if he became premier, he indicated that he would want to improve infrastructure.  This is different from what Calla suggested that “Government should get out of the way”.
Lunch at Potato World restaurant - Alison McCain in white shirt

Lunch at Potato World restaurant – Alison McCain in white shirt

Edmunston, NB

  • http://www.edmundston.ca/en/
  • Mayor, Cyrille Simard, 2014 AWC Leo-Paul Nadeau, Head Chef Don Thibeault.
  • In addition to natural resources, knowledge management is important in this region.  As such, very happy that both the Community College (CCNB – http://ccnb.nb.ca/accueil.aspx) and the University (UMCE – http://www.umoncton.ca/umce/) have decided to merge several sections together, such as the library and other common areas.
  • AWC (or Congres Mondial Acadien)
  • Opening ceremonies will be at the tri-corner of NB, Quebec, and Maine – a little spot in the midst of large woods.
  • 600,000 people attending – focus on staying with the local families to overcome lodging problems.  Will have many yards filled with trailers.
  • Planning various meetings – youth, women, 50+, local area projects, projects for the regions.  Several daily themes across the period of the Congress.  Different provinces/countries/languages increase complexity (linguistic policy!)
Congres Mondial Acadien's Leo-Paul Nadeau

Congres Mondial Acadien’s Leo-Paul Nadeau

Grand Falls, NB

Grand Falls - Image

Grand Falls – Image

Resources and Articles

 “Suggestive Leadership: A Civic View” by Montreal-born author Wassim Israwi at Huffington Post

Can someone be a leader because we think (s)he is one?  Gives examples of how circumstances have helped portray some people (e.g., Jack Welsh, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffet) as leaders.  But are they truly leaders, or are they are only leaders because we perceive them to be leaders?

Original article can be found here

 “Leadership not defined by shapes, sizes” by Col. Jerry Wizda of the US Air Force

Detailing the story of what made 5′ 4″ (163cm) James Madison (President of the United States and “Father of the Constitution”) great.

  • Always believe in yourself and never doubt your abilities.
  • Stay true to yourself and stand by your convictions
  • Know when to stay and when to run.

Original article can be found here

“Do your physical characteristics determine your leadership potential?” by Jena McGregor at the Washington Post

“In a study of nearly 800 CEOs, they found that a 1-percent decrease in voice pitch is associated with a $30 million increase in the size of the firm managed — and therefore, $19,000 more in annual pay.”

Original article can be found here

“Collective leadership key to environmental success” by Carmela Fragomeni at the Hamilton Spectator

How to collectively work together to solve a common issue:

  • Multi-sector representation
  • Define both the problem and the strategy
  • Create a compelling vision
  • Attract voluntary leadership
  • Ensure the attractive benefits of involvement are apparent

Original article can be found here

I’m Chris Hache, asking you to be VOCL for a better Canada.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Share This