Over a decade has passed since Beat the Wheat burst on to the food producer scene in Muskoka, showing people that baked goods can taste amazing and still be gluten-free.
With a dedication to creating gluten-free pastas, breads, tarts and other delicacies, Adam Palubiski and Stephanie Dunn started selling their home-made delights at farmers’ markets. As their operation expanded, they opened a dedicated retail store in downtown Bracebridge.
More recently, Beat the Wheat has been expanding their wholesale offerings, with products available at Sobey’s and independent retailers throughout Ontario. They also have a permanent space inside the Natural Food Market in Bracebridge, as well as online ordering options. This new direction led them to close the Bracebridge store.
“We’re getting so busy with online orders and wholesale that we don’t need a full retail store,” explains Adam.
All their products are made in a gluten- and nut-free facility, to ensure that they can be enjoyed by people with wheat and nut allergies, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Celiac Disease, autism, and a range of other conditions, as well as those who simply prefer to be gluten-free.
Beat the Wheat has grown to the point that their recent move to a 3,200 square foot production space became a necessity. It will allow them to increase their wholesale reach to outside of the province.
“We’re really expanding production,” says Stephanie. “We’re looking to branch out a bit more once we’re settled in the new facility. Right now, we’re working with a small distributor whose focus is locally produced products within Ontario.”
Beat the Wheat has been working with Muskoka Futures for many years. They have been an active participant in the Momentum program and received support through an advisory fund to work with advisors to help grow their business.
As well, Muskoka Futures was instrumental in helping Beat the Wheat secure an operational line of credit which is being used to transition their business, including equipment necessary for increased production.
“We’ve worked with (Program Co-ordinator) Jodi Chapman-Good over the years to find grants which provided us the funds necessary to grow,” explains Adam. “She helped us with advice on which grants would be best for Beat the Wheat’s needs.”
Adds Stephanie: “Just bouncing ideas off Jodi has been great. Not only ideas for grants, but also for transitioning and growing our business.”
Beat the Wheat started out with a great idea and a quality product. Their continued growth comes from also having a strong work ethic, a willingness to use the tools available, and not being afraid to ask for expert advice.
by: Chris Occhiuzzi of Dockside Publishing Inc.