Ontario’s West Coast Honey: Summer Company Success Story
Neil Haas is a 17-year-old beekeeper and the owner of Ontario’s West Coast Honey, a small-scale apiary selling fresh, local honey in the Goderich and Clinton area.
When Haas was 13 years old, he took a beekeeping course at Munro Honey with his mother and they came home with a beekeeping starter kit and a passion to support the local bee population. “My family has always been very environmentally conscious and we wanted to have bees on our property,” said Haas. After that first encounter, Haas also connected with a local beekeeper who took him under his wing, offering mentoring and teaching him what he needed to learn to become an effective beekeeper.
Last winter was really slow for local honey and Haas actually ran out of honey in December. “I realized I needed to pick things up because there is a demand for local, raw honey. My brother was part of The Summer Company last year, so I was familiar with the program. I decided to apply and my application was accepted,” said Haas.
Through the program, Haas was able to grow his business. “The Summer Company helped me expand. It was very interesting to understand how a business runs, planning ahead, forecasting and figuring out all the expenses. It was really fun to go through the process of creating a business plan and understanding how to look at my business in a different way.”
“There is no way that I would be where I am now without the funds from the program and the training that I had. I learned a lot about how to present my business online and different ways to keep customers engaged on social media. I learned how I can encourage repeat customers and that your clients can help you expand your network,” said Haas.
The funds from the program helped Haas cover most of his start-up fees and purchase bee-keeping equipment that was needed for the expansion. “With the rising costs of wood due to COVID, I wouldn’t have been able to afford the start-up costs without the funding from The Summer Company. Now that I’m over that initial cost, I’m able to keep going and generate sales and profits. The funding really helped me to expand my business and make it sustainable.”
Haas also remarked that he has noticed an increase in local bees in the area and can see the flowers thriving around his beehives. Witnessing an increase in the bee population brings a lot of pride in the young entrepreneur who is thankful that he is a part of the solution of revitalizing the bee population.
Do you know a young person interested in starting their own business next summer? Click here for more information from Huron County Economic Development’s Summer Company Program.
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