Developing A New Canadian Industry
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 Early Years of a Family Business
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.