Within a few years of graduation from the Technical University of Nova Scotia (now Dalhousie University), Louis embraced his passion and began to explore the economic opportunities the marine world held. He made a name for himself developing the snow crab and shrimp industries for Canada’s Federal Department of Fisheries and his reputation as an innovative thinker with a devotion to high quality products attracted the attention of Marine Colloids.
His twelve years with this worldwide company only deepened his appreciation for the true potential of seaweed. Leading various divisions, Louis mastered the business of seaweed procurement and processing, handling the marine resource from harvest to the extract of carrageenan. He even pioneered a new seaweed farming industry in the Philippines and Malaysia, one that thrives in those regions to this day.
Yet Louis saw an opportunity to build a world-class organization in Canada, one that provided high-quality products while respecting the sustainability of the resource itself. When the opportunity presented itself, Louis acquired the Canadian assets of Marine Colloids, introducing Acadian Seaplants to the world in 1981.
The business started out of a single room in Louis’ home, where he sold one type of wild-harvested seaweed to one customer. Recognizing that diversity was needed to grow the business, he worked tirelessly throughout the first year with the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) to obtain seaweed harvesting leases in Yarmouth and Charlesville in Nova Scotia and Miminegash in Prince Edward Island.
Early customers received a personal guarantee from Louis himself who attested to the quality of the seaweed and the environmental precautions taken during the harvest. Though margins were low in the early years, our reputation for quality grew and Louis was able to expand our export business.
Though we encountered challenges along the way, we overcame them and thrived.
Around the same time, Louis’ son Jean-Paul Deveau was building his own experience that would later transform and augment the potential of Acadian Seaplants. After graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in engineering, he took a sales job with Imperial Oil on the encouragement of his father, gaining a love for communication and negotiation along the way.
Later, while earning his MBA, Jean-Paul spent the summer working with his father, realizing the potential of their partnership. When Louis asked Jean-Paul to see what they could build together, Jean-Paul accepted. He then took over sales in 1986 and began to spread the word about our burgeoning seaweed company and the benefits businesses could anticipate with Acadian products.
In those years, Acadian expanded our products, our harvest and our customer base. We began to offer Ascophyllum nodosum and Chondrus crispus, selling our first seaweed extract for plants in 1991 and pioneering a unique seafood with Hana Tsunomata® in 1995. Though we encountered challenges along the way, we overcame them and thrived. With investments in research, resource management, market development and people, we were prepared to expand our radius on the global stage.
Along the way, there was a passing of the torch as Jean-Paul became President and CEO of Acadian Seaplants. Following the family tradition, Jean-Paul has worked to create a company that is as resilient as the seaweed that started it all.
With the right foundation, we were ready to grow the quality and scope of our solutions for the future. We recognized that our business depended on a firm scientific understanding of seaweed resources, their ecosystems and the untapped benefits they offered. Moreover, we saw an opportunity to bring our premium products to additional international markets and building a local presence in coastal communities overseas.
By hiring our first scientist in 1995, we began our journey to become a model for international marine resource sustainability, guided by Dr. Raul Ugarte’s research and seaweed management programs. Early in his tenure with Acadian Seaplants, Dr. Ugarte developed an extensive stock assessment and management program, proving our ability to harvest in eco-conscious ways that preserved the resource and mitigated damage to ecosystems along the 3,000 km of shorelines we were licensed by governments to manage in Canada.
As we studied the effects of harvesting on this renewable marine resource, we also began to examine the ways seaweed could have a positive effect on people. We assembled a world-class team of researchers who used our state-of-the-art research facility to discover new and innovative applications for seaweed’s bioactive compounds. Through the work of our R&D team, the world gained a greater understanding of seaweed’s positive influence on plant growth, performance and abiotic stress resistance.
As we gained a global reputation for our discoveries, we also began to build partnerships that expanded our knowledge. Local, regional, national and international universities approached us to collaborate on studies about the applied uses of seaweed for plants and animals. Research organizations saw our R&D department as trusted partners with insight that could revolutionize the application of seaweed in premium products. The more we learned, the more we knew we had an incredible resource to share with the world.
Thanks to our proven sustainability and resource management, our Harvesters provide us vital quantities of the renewable resource allowing us to export research-proven products to markets ranging from the U.S. and South America to Europe and Japan. All the while, the sophistication of our processes, our product research and resource science and our product offerings grew in step with our business.
As we increased our exports, we also searched for ways to expand our physical presence outside of Canada. We expanded into Maine in 2000, bringing our expertise as science-based resource managers to extend our responsible harvest and conservation methods to this coastal region. We acquired Arramara Teoranta in Ireland in 2014 and Uist Asco in Scotland in 2017, supplementing their rich culture and tradition of seaweed harvesting with global resources, technical expertise and best practices that have benefited several rural coastal communities.
For over 40 years, Acadian Seaplants has grown and evolved with the times. We’ve won awards for our innovation, our management and our value as an exporter. We’ve taken lessons learned from global food chain brands and applied their techniques and quality-assurance practices to our business, elevating our performance. And we’ve balanced our roots with an adaptable vision of the future.
Though we have uncovered many of the mysteries hidden within our coastal seaweed, we are still exploring the vast potential of Ascophyllum nodosum and other seaweeds, as we are driven to find other viable solutions that enrich the health and hardiness of plants, animals and people.
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