GORE BAY – As the business has grown in terms of its production, Finnia Chocolate has also undergone expansion over the years.
“The business started in Lisabeth’s (Flanagan) home, and then was located at the back of the Loco Beanz building in Gore Bay, and now we have moved the business into our new location,” said Trish Moran, co-owner/operator of the business, last Saturday.
“We have moved to 31 Water Street (in Gore Bay), in a new office location on the side section of the building (which also houses Split Rail Brewing),” said Lisabeth Flanagan, co-owner/operator of the business. “We are no longer located in the location behind Loco Beanz, and we will be holding a grand opening by the May long weekend. Customers can still order online and pick up items here.”
With the move to a new location, “we have a much bigger area for manufacturing and retail area, and we will have a storefront presence,” said Ms. Flanagan. “And with the new location and equipment we now have on hand we will be able to increase our production across Canada.”
Ms. Moran took the Recorder on a tour of the new facility. “This is the real deal,” she stated. There is a packaging area, where an employee will work retail, office space, an employee area with washrooms and a lunch room area for employees upstairs, a test kitchen for new types of chocolate products and pastries, and a much larger area to make the delicious chocolate products the business manufactures.
And there is a new line of more modern, larger equipment to be used to make their products. For instance, a new large roaster can roast a bag of cacao beans. In the past, this would have taken three days to roast, but now takes half an hour. There are also two large grinders (to grind the beans) and much more equipment, as well as a commercial kitchen.
Ms. Moran pointed out, “it is thanks to Doug (Smith) who we are renting the space from in the building, and his group led by Jeff Gilmore, that put in the second floor and did the renovations on the space we have. We also have a storefront area, and we needed three phase power which is now in place. And we couldn’t have done all of this without Lambac (LaCloche-Manitoulin Business Assistance Corporation, and the NOHFC (Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation) support.”
“The pandemic has not been good for anyone, but what it did in our case was provide the opportunity to buy needed machinery from Italy, during a once in a lifetime promotion,” said Ms. Moran. “It was at this time we decided to take the leap and buy this equipment.”
“We have collaborated with Split Rail on different events,” said Ms. Moran. “I can remember our first meeting with representatives (of Manitoulin Transport) on this project and what we needed for this location. There was about 12 of us, socially distancing in the warehouse and talking about what our plans were.”
With the relocation to this new site and expansion of the work space and the production component, Finnia will also be expanding its employee numbers. “We need to hire two people to work in retail and in manufacturing,” added Ms. Moran.
The business moved the last Saturday in March to its new location.