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CFIB Business Ownership Transition Award
9/27/2006



Halifax, Nova Scotia, September 27, 2006 – BDC today named W.P. Griffin Inc., of Elmsdale, PEI as the first recipient of the CFIB Business Ownership Transition Award. The award will be presented during Small Business Week in October and was designed to raise awareness of a public policy issue that, if not addressed, holds serious consequences for the Canadian economy.

"We are seeing the beginning of an unprecedented demographic wave of ageing, retiring entrepreneurs and the majority has no succession plan to transfer their business to new owners," said BDC President and CEO Jean-René Halde. "W.P. Griffin Inc. is great example of how to plan properly and, for that accomplishment, has won the first CFIB Business Ownership Transition Award."

This family-owned and operated potato farming business managed the company's transition from one generation to the next when John Griffin took over the reins from his mother, Mary Ellen Griffin, in 2001. Mary Ellen had filled the top management role herself after her husband (Wilfred) and the company's founder, passed away in 1996.

"A well-executed transition means higher value for a company. This has certainly been true in our case as the succession process helped us stay on course with the company's growth plan," said John Griffin, President.

When John became President, he led the business on its largest expansion ever. In an effort to position the company as a contemporary player on the market, and to differentiate it from its competitors, Griffin's packaging facility was expanded and completely modernized. The company – which supplies Sobeys, packages under the Dole label and also contracts processing to Cavendish and McCain – saw its facilities become recognized as the most modern and diversified in Canada, even integrating within its operation the first optical potato grader in North America.

Over the following years, W.P. Griffin launched new added-value potato products, and implemented an in-house workplace education program. The company has also become an industry leader in sustainable farming practices.

John Griffin's efforts were rewarded as the company saw its profits more than double over a 2-year period.

"W.P. Griffin is a perfect example of how putting the time and energy into creating a well thought-out succession plan can ensure a business' prosperity into the next generation," said Catherine Swift, President and CEO of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). "We are very proud to have John and his family as members of CFIB, and it is our hope that, in honouring their achievements, other small business owners will be inspired to start their own succession planning process."

The entrepreneur/buyer as well as the entrepreneur/seller will both be honoured during Small Business Week which takes place this year from October 15 to 21. They will also receive a business grant of $20,000 to help the company meet its future growth objectives. In W.P. Griffin's case, this means introducing additional development programs such as lean manufacturing and marketing training, and also working on the next generation's succession plan.

"Professional legal and tax advice will be needed," said John Griffin. "My brother and I are both in our early forties, and it is time we start planning for the future again. We know how much Griffin's long-term success depends on it. "

About BDC
BDC is a financial institution wholly owned by the Government of Canada. BDC actively supports the development and growth of Canadian small and medium-sized businesses through its complementary financial, investment and consulting solutions.

About CFIB
CFIB is a non-partisan political action organization that exists to promote and protect a system of free competitive enterprise, to strengthen the entrepreneurial culture in Canada, and to give independent business a greater voice in determining the laws that govern business and the nation. The Federation is celebrating its 35th anniversary in 2006. With over 105,000 small- and medium-sized business owner members across the country, CFIB has grown to become the largest individual membership business organization in Canada.

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