Convenience is the operational word. For 80 years, Morrison Lamothe Inc. has provided consumers with convenient food choices. The Canadian company is recognized as an innovator and responsive partner for food industry clients. What started out with fresh bakery items expanded into frozen food products, reports Dan Harvey.
Toronto-based Morrison Lamothe Inc. has evolved through the years, but one thing has remained constant: consumer convenience.
“It started out as a door-to-door bakery business,” reveals Ms. Shawn Dellevoet, the company’s managing director of business development, and that underscores the company ongoing mission. “We have always been about convenient food options and solutions.”
Adapting to Changes
It all started in 1933, but the world has changed. “That took the business into the frozen food sector, which translated into further convenience that addressed the changing times,” comments Dellevoet.
Today, that translates into meeting the needs of the time constrained. “The marketplace profile continues shifting, and we look to provide the consumer with ‘what’s next,’” says Dellevoet.
Company evolution also entails relationships it has developed with its food-industry clients. “We are a contract manufacturing company that provides contract manufacturing services,” comments Dellevoet, “taking clients from ideation to product launch.”
Evolution means that this company has developed far beyond a door delivery business. Today, Morrison Lamothe engages in the manufacture and sale of branded and private label frozen food products. Its impact touches on the retail and food service sectors.
Describing the company’s scope of operations, Dellevoet describes: “For the most part it is national and North American customers.”
This means some of the largest of the continent’s retailers. In this way, the company’s reach extends overseas, however indirectly. “Our customers are large multinationals, and we take great pride in the long-term relationships we have developed,” says Dellevoet.
The company has been defined as a co-packer for private label products. But that doesn’t reveal the entire picture. “We’re more than a co-packer. We’re also a co-manufacturer and supplier,” describes Dellevoet.
Indeed, in this enlarged role, Morrison Lamothe produces frozen prepared foods, with marketing and distribution efforts that extend across North American retail and food services channels.
“We’re a fully integrated operation,” says Dellevoet. “We are strongly committed to food innovation and creation. We have a team of product development specialists who are trained in the culinary arts. Our design and development efforts are fostered by our entrepreneurial spirit.”
In terms of the Morrison Lamothe “menu,” areas of specialization include:
- Pastry-enrobed products – This means appetizers, hors d’oeuvres and snacks, which further translates into handheld and convenience products, meat pies (traditional, gourmet, and fusion); and
- Frozen prepared meals – These include single-serve pastas, compartment dinners, healthy choices, ethnic options, breakfast options, and bowl entrees (rice, potato, and pasta).
Morrison Lamothe is a private, third-generation family business. Its roots date back to about 1911, when co-founders Cecil Morrison and Richard Lamothe went into business for themselves. But it wasn’t until 1933 when they built their first modern factory, relates Dellevoet. “That’s the year the company considers its founding, and that means we’re celebrating our 80th anniversary in 2013,” she points out.
That modern bakery was opened in Ottawa, Ontario, and the emerging business first began supplying fresh bread. By the 1960s, it became the largest bakery in its region. Meanwhile, it diversified. First, it made a foray into the restaurant and catering business in the late 1940s. In the “swinging ‘60s,” it advanced into frozen food manufacturing, to help meet the needs of consumers who were embracing new lifestyles that required more convenience, as far as food preparation.
In 1980, the company sold its bakery operation – a response to the declining market for baked foods. But, thanks to its increasing diversification, Morrison Lamothe was well positioned to carry on, even if that meant shutting down its specialty bakery segment (1987) and closing its restaurant operations (1995).
Meanwhile, the entry into the frozen meals segment situated Morrison Lamothe as an efficient, low-cost food producer that specialized in meat pies and prepared dinners. It advanced its own cause with significant acquisitions: the Holiday Farms brand (1984) and Northern Fine Foods (1990). These purchases provided the opportunity for Morrison Lamothe to increase its presence in the expanding co-pack and private label frozen food market segments.
Today, core competencies include value creation that combines four distinct capabilities:
- Production of different forms of pastry (including proprietary recipes);
- In-house production of fillings and sauces;
- Enrobed meat, seafood, vegetables, and sauce; and
- Manufacture of products that combine starch with protein, vegetables, and sauces.
History and development have provided the company with expertise in puff pastry and enrobed products such as hors d’oeuvres, appetizers, and entrees.
Collaborative and Committed
In the meantime, Morrison Lamothe has become one of its clients’ best partners, thanks to recognition of their needs – particularly relating to food safety. This consideration carries through all processes, which fosters product introductions that are quick to market and safety assured.
To advance its safety commitment, Morrison Lamothe applies Lean manufacturing principles in all processes carried out in its three facilities located in the Toronto area. Of the three, two are Agriculture/Canada USDA-inspected plants (and HACCP certified). The third is for non-meat bakery products.
The company is also CTPAT-recognized, and it adheres to a Social Responsibility Code of Conduct. Its programs meet or exceed all regulatory and third-party auditor requirements. Products are on a “positive release” program (program is tested by an independent lab verifying safety).
Safety considerations extend to employees. At all three facilities, Morrison Lamothe strives to continuously improve workplace conditions. The company embraces a comprehensive occupational health and safety program – which is supported, maintained and integrated with all of its operational activities. Efforts extending to training: Employees are regularly trained in the best manufacturing procedures. Indeed, a company has to be diligent when it works with food. That’s one reason why Morrison Lamothe only aligns itself with suppliers who share the same food safety philosophies.
Specific activities related to occupational health and safety issues include:
- Joint health and safety committees in each location;
- Monthly meetings and inspections;
- Compliance with Industrial Accident Prevention Association (IAPA) safety group guidelines; and
- Training for IAPA safety, first-aid and CPR.
Morrison Lamothe has an impressive track record of success. Long-term clients rely on this company’s experience, capabilities, and commitment to provide the most practical and effective solutions. Meanwhile, consumers expect nothing less than the best when it comes to products.