A few years ago, as their list of products was growing, Gathering Place co-founders Lovena and Ryan Harvey began searching for some help with distribution. Their wish list was short and sweet. They wanted to partner with another local, family-owned business that shared their deep care for the Earth.
They didn’t have to search far! Tree Island Gourmet Yogurt, founded in 2012 by Scott DiGuistini and Merissa Myles, was just down the road in Courtenay. Here was a company that was a champion of the local food movement, supported grass-fed dairy farms, and made artisan yogurt in small batches using fresh, whole milk and a traditional, slow-kettle cooking method.
Tree Island Yogurt had recently gotten into the distribution game themselves after being unable to find anyone to do weekly deliveries of their refrigerated product. After investing in their distribution infrastructure, they started looking for other companies to share the costs.
“We wanted to partner with companies who were close geographically and also aligned with our values,” says Nico Guinoiseau, Director of Sales and Distribution for Tree Island. “We saw it as a chance for family-based entrepreneurial businesses on Vancouver Island to come together.”
Tree Island was already delivering their healthy and delicious yogurt to many of the same stores Gathering Place products were heading. It was a match made in heaven. “Both of our companies have an emphasis on superior quality and tasty, nutritious food,” says Nico. “It was absolutely the right fit for us. We love partnering with Gathering Place.”
Lovena has been thrilled with the distribution arrangement “With the support of Tree Island Yogurt, we have been able to deliver a wide range of our products to Whole Foods Market BC stores. They also helped us launch into Whole Foods Ontario, as well as two other large retailers – Choices in BC and SPUD in Alberta.”
Despite the last couple of tumultuous years, and with the rising prices of raw ingredients, gas, shipping, and material costs, both companies are growing strong. To celebrate their 10-year anniversary, Tree Island is building a new production facility and are exploring new product ideas. And Gathering Place is growing their organic herb and spice line with Mexican-inspired spices such as Ancho powder and Tex-Mex chili powder, as well as a Vancouver Island herb blend called Herbes de Van Isle!
The distribution arrangement has worked out very well for both parties. “The working relationship with Lovena and her team is very cooperative and friendly,” says Nico. “We have each other’s best interests at heart and want to keep growing together.”
We couldn’t agree more!