For more than two decades, Canuel Caterers has been serving a range of private, corporate and institutional clients with high quality food service throughout British Columbia. Brothers Brian and Glenn Canuel established the business and worked over the course of 23 years to expand across various markets. From a single location in Delta, British Columbia, this distinct food service business has restructured in recent years to focus on clientele that drive positive growth.
When Brian, cofounder and beloved family member, died in 2014, the business needed to reorganize. “We had to make adjustments to our management team,” says Glenn. “We’ve fine-tuned our existing operations to increase efficiency and create better productivity than we had in the past. We reorganized our management team and with the addition of some motivated and enthusiastic senior managers, new dimensions are now there to be explored.”
It became critical to focus on Canuel Caterers’ core business, which meant being more selective on contracts that did not contribute to the company’s mission. With a growing focus on institutional catering and an expanding food service distribution business, it became vital to the organization to focus on what it does best.
Back to school
Canuel Caterers recently completed renovations of a new facility that serves as both a warehouse for sister company, Branded Distribution, as well as an updated commissary space for catering. “This new building is right next door to our office,” Glenn explains. “We now have two buildings, each with a 10,000-square-foot footprint. One is a warehouse and distribution hub for our sister company and the other is Canuel Caterers. The new building has a 6,500-squre-foot production kitchen, which allows us to use it to make a full range of culinary products.”
This new facility has allowed Canuel Caterers to expand its elementary feeding programs for a variety of schools. Easily confused with school cafeteria operation, the business actually delivers daily hot and cold lunches prepared at the commissary to students at multiple school locations in the lower mainland.
“We have been able to significantly expand that program during the school year,” Glenn notes. “We are also working with organizations for spring and summer camps, providing lunches for the kids. The other day, our production facility provided a slice of watermelon, a muffin and a juice box, bagged individually and served to 500-plus kids over a three-day span. ”
Glenn and his team are adding more school catering locations for September in Vancouver, South Surrey, and Coquitlam. Canuel Caterers continues to seek out new educational prospects, and expand its service in the education industry. “We have continued to expand in education and we have picked up some more schools,” he says. “We serve 500 kids a day in Kamloops on an elementary feeding program. We’re doing elementary feeding in Vancouver, which is a smaller program serving 125 kids a day. We are working to develop more with that district. Coming up in September 2015, we have added another school in the program.”
Diversified food services
While educational catering services comprise approximately 75 percent of Canuel Caterers’ revenue, the business remains quite diversified. The company still performs a number of catered events, such as weddings, corporate gatherings and banquets. Branded Distribution, a sister company, is one of the more recent developments for the Canuel family.
“Branded Distribution is totally separate, but under the same ownership,” Glenn explains. “It’s like a mini GFS or Sysco that sells to Canuel Caterers as well as around 10 other customers in the lower mainland. We have been able to minimize products purchased from distributors because we use our own system. Branded Distribution is growing and moves about $3.5 million of product a year. It has been operating since 2011. This new business has made our catering operations more productive by keeping costs down. We have four delivery vehicles for that and a staff of eight people. We still work with all of our major suppliers.”
The team has also expanded to take on more catered events and continues to serve schools and sports facilities. The business recently expanded service at the local fairground, which underwent remodeling to bring in more events at the Agriplex facility on site at the Cloverdale Fairgrounds. “At Percy stadium we do food and beverage for track meets, soccer tournaments and other events,” Glenn adds. “There is a lot going on there.”
“We have fine-tuned everything and have tried to keep growing over the last four years,” Glenn reinforces. “We are adding operations that make sense and we are not taking business for the sake of taking business. We are adding contracts that improve our bottom line. We don’t want to take on any business that will not help us grow or will dilute our brand.”
Over the coming years, Glenn and his team plan to continue steady, sustainable growth, allowing Canuel Caterers and its partner businesses to continue providing quality food services to Kamloops and the lower mainland of British Columbia.