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Feature on Authentic Seacoast Company

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Charlene and Glynn Williams in front of DesBarres Manor Inn, Guysborough.

Nova Scotia Business Inc. along with its partners and sponsors will present The Nova Scotia Export Achievement Awards, an annual celebration and recognition of excellence in exporting across Nova Scotia on May 26, 2016. Authentic Seacoast Company is one of ten companies that will be celebrated at the 2016 provincial EAA awards ceremony in Halifax.

Nova Scotia Business Inc. spoke with Doug Anweiler, vice-president, marketing and communications, for Authentic Seacoast Company. The company is the brainchild of Glynn Williams, a Toronto multimillionaire who loved Guysborough the first time he visited and wanted to see it prosper. In the past dozen years, he and his team have created 13 individual brands under the Authentic Seacoast umbrella, including a luxury inn, a golf course, a coffee roastery, and rums and a whisky that have garnered international awards.

Q: Can you share your company’s history in Nova Scotia?
It all begins with a bicycle. When Glynn Williams and his wife, Charlene, cycled up the coast of Nova Scotia to Cape Breton nearly 30 years ago, they thought Guysborough was one of the most beautiful places they’d ever seen. That visit spurred Glynn to buy property in the area, and he and his family summered there for years. Then, about 12 years ago, Glynn noticed that a number of businesses in Guysborough had closed. He decided to step up and purchase and renovate some of these historic buildings. He put well over $1 million into the DesBarres Manor Inn to turn it into a luxury inn that the Toronto Sun calls one of the most romantic hotels in Canada. That was the first of four Seacoast hospitality and tourism businesses in Guysborough; the others are the Rare Bird Pub, Skipping Stone Café & Store, and the Osprey Shores Golf Resort, which was also for sale and badly in need of investment. These four were the core of our business for several years.

However, the Eastern Shore is not heavily travelled. So, about five years ago, Glynn thought, if we can’t get people to come to Guysborough, let’s take the Authentic Seacoast to the world. We started three companies in Guysborough: Full Steam Coffee, a certified organic, fair trade, kosher roaster; Rare Bird Craft Beer and Authentic Seacoast Distilling Company, which bottles our brewpub’s craft beer and produces Fortress Rum, Sea Fever Rum, and Glynnevan Canadian rye whisky; and Harbour Belle Bakery, a wholesaler of baked goods. Full Steam Coffee has done exceptionally well in Ontario, and Rare Bird Craft Beer is sold in NSLC and ANBL stores. While we were putting that together, we started Glanbùrn Artesian Water to share Guysborough’s beautiful Artesian water. Authentic Seacoast Soap produces pure Nova Scotia goat’s milk soaps as well as a traditional New France lavender soap in partnership with Fortress of Louisbourg. Online, the Authentic Seacoast Store sells products across Canada and around the world.

Q: What does being recognized by your local business community mean to your business and your employees?
This award is very important to our company and to our employees. While it’s good to be recognized by people outside Nova Scotia, like the awards we’ve won for the inn and our spirits, it’s especially nice to be recognized by those closest to you.

Q: What factors have contributed to your success?
Too many to mention, but in particular the tremendous passion that Glynn brings to his work and to motivate people. Plus his innovation and his desire to create things that are authentic and reflect the Maritime spirit.

Q: What do you consider will be key to your success going forward?
Glynn brings a work ethic to what he does that is truly inspirational, and no one works harder than he does. So I think continued hard work is going to be a key to success, along with finding talented people to join our team as we grow. And encouraging more Nova Scotians to be ambassadors for our products as we expand across Canada. That’s been a key part of our growth. Every Nova Scotian can have a powerful role to play helping local companies grow exports. People sharing the pride and the products we produce here, and the stories we tell with our products, can help us expand our exports. If we can leverage the network of Nova Scotians across Canada and around the world, there’s nothing stopping us.

Q: What was your biggest learning or a-ha moment?
For us, it was recognizing that Guysborough does not see enough visitors to support our hospitality and tourism companies, even though the area is beautiful and our companies win awards. And, following that, Glynn’s decision to create businesses that would take Guysborough to the world.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you would give to new exporters, or companies considering exporting from Nova Scotia?
A: To make certain you have the highest quality product. Excellence is the price of entering the market today. And you want to have authentic products and experiences that people can connect with in a real way.

Q: And finally, what’s the best thing about being a Nova Scotia exporter?
A: It’s the four centuries of history that we bring to the market. We do a lot of Full Steam Coffee tastings in Ontario, and we meet many Nova Scotians when we do these tastings. But we also meet people who have never been to Atlantic Canada. And they look at our map of the Maritimes on the back of our coffee bags, and they get excited about coming out and visiting. We’re always ambassadors for the province, and that’s exciting.

Authentic Seacoast Limited is in Guysborough. In 2015, the company was awarded the Strait Area Chamber of Commerce Export Achievement Award.

Interested in export? Nova Scotia Business Inc. is dedicated to supporting the growth of business in Nova Scotia and our team of Regional Business Development Advisors is available to assess your needs and provide practical advice on taking your next steps toward growth in global markets.

Stay up to date on Nova Scotia export events by subscribing to our e-newsletter that includes upcoming trade development initiatives that you can participate in and highlights trade activity in Nova Scotia and beyond.