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How one business found sweet success through local love and networking

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laptop showing a nine people on a Zoom callDeborah Keeble believes the fastest way to a customer’s heart is through their sweet tooth.

Her company, Edible Promotions Inc., specializes in branded edible goodies that anyone can send as gifts to win new customers or say thank you to existing ones. Based in Hillsburgh, just northeast of Guelph, the company creates unique and delicious edibles for any occasion. “Our products are used for both corporate and personal events,” explains Deborah.

“Customers can select from a range of cookies, handmade chocolates, and sweet or savoury items to make up a memorable gift. We can create customized items for fundraisers, showers, birthdays, and client gifts that show our client's good taste. We can personalize many of our items with our client's logo, such as the mini chocolate bars, chocolate medallions, and the logo cookies.”

Starting out in 2012

Deborah is perfectly suited to her business with a background in Food Processing, Microbiology, and Chemistry, along with 15 years of experience in the dairy industry.

Like many entrepreneurs, she got the idea for her business from experience - in this case, selling in a local farmer’s market where she put candy on her business cards to help attract customers. She decided to get into the promotional products business by offering edible treats like candy, chocolate, and baked goods.

“I didn't even know if it would work,” recalls Deborah. “I'd never seen promotions done other than with the standard hats, pens, and things.”

Deborah sells to service-based businesses, like real estate agents, insurance brokers, and financial advisors. She can work with any type of customer. “If they want their own product or promotional materials in the basket along with edible treats, we can absolutely do that.” She also sells to other basket companies.

Edible Promotions Inc. is part of a growing industry. The promotional products industry in Canada generates $2 billion in annual sales. Future projections for the industry look good, with an estimated growth rate of 1.5% per year through the year 2022.

Incorporated in 2017, Edible Promotions Inc. now offers gourmet jellybeans, chocolate pretzels, branded chocolates, custom mint packages, branded cookies, honey and tea gift baskets and boxes, branded popcorn bags, and much more.

The company’s come a long way - it recently won a Diamond Award in the Gift Baskets category from the Guelph Mercury Tribune Readers' Choice Awards.

Supporting other local businesses

“What makes my business unique is that I make all my chocolate products myself, but everything else I bring in from other entrepreneurs,” Deborah states.

“I'm trying to hire as many local food-based companies as possible. I have a tea supplier, I work with a company that makes cocktail mixes – we are really trying to support local businesses,” she adds.

Deborah loves to brainstorm creative ideas that are win/win for her customers and suppliers. For example, she recently collaborated with her printing partner to come up with brandable products. “We came up with custom popcorn bags – we will put a sleeve of microwave popcorn inside, but the whole outside of the packaging is whatever the customer wants.”

Customers across Canada can order anything they want on her website.

Proud Meridian Business Member

Deborah recalls that it was caring people who attracted her to Meridian.

“I was with a standard big bank and I was getting really frustrated,” she remembers. “I had set up two accounts, one for my working business account and one for the HST to keep it separate. Well, every time I moved money from one account to the other, the big bank charged me fees. It really ticked me off, being penalized for my good business practices.”

While at a local trade show, Deborah recalls meeting Terri Millar from Meridian. At the time, Deborah had a broken arm and was in a cast. The injury occurred just before her busy time at Christmas, and she was stressed out. Terri approached her and said if she needed any help, to please call.Debra, owner of Edible Promotions Inc.

“It got me thinking – if Meridian was willing to help me and I don't even belong to the bank – that’s really impressive. My bank at time knew I was injured and never reached out to help me,” she says.

“I asked Terri, tell me about what kind of support I'm going to get. And she said you can text me or call me anytime and I thought, ‘well, that's cool’. And I have, I've called her up. And she's faithfully gotten back to me every single time,” says Deborah.

Edible Promotions Inc. became a Meridian Member in 2019, and Meridian is also one of its customers. “I've done numerous orders for the credit union,” says Deborah.

Finding new customers through the Chamber of Commerce

“The Chamber has always supported my business,” asserts Deborah.

Deborah joined the Centre Wellington Chamber of Commerce in 2016. She was attracted to their networking events and the opportunity to meet other business owners. Since joining up, Edible Promotions Inc. has taken full advantage of Chamber membership.

“I've participated in their annual Small Business Tradeshow – that’s where I met the ladies from Meridian,” recalls Deborah.

“Their ‘After Hours’ events have helped me to build my networking skills, and I met a few new clients as well,” she continues. “I was also the ‘New Business Sponsor’ during 2019, when I donated a gift basket to a new business opening up and participated in the ribbon cutting ceremony – that gave me great exposure in the community through social media and meeting the new business owners in person.”

One of the Chamber events Deborah likes most is called 26 Coffees - a coffee meetup for business owners. “We meet every two weeks with different members each time,” enthuses Deborah. “I'm tapping into the Chamber's large membership, which has really helped me build my own business.”

When asked why she believes other business owners should join their local Chamber of Commerce, Deborah offered this advice. “I think new business owners should join the Chamber because it builds a sense of community. It can be difficult at times to be an entrepreneur, so belonging to the Chamber gives us support for each other and helps us take advantage of opportunities through the power of our collective experiences.”

Learn more about the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.

Meridian has partnered with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce to help you grow your business with exclusive banking offers and perks for your employees. Ask your Business Advisor for details.

Looking at a bright future

A recent order from a very large customer is a good sign of what’s ahead for Edible Promotions Inc..

“We recently got a huge order from a major automobile manufacturer,” shares Deborah. “It’s my first really big corporate order and it's for almost 2,000 pieces. They want branded chocolates for their employees.”

When asked what’s ahead for her company, Deborah says she can see moving into a bigger space and hiring more employees. “I can see spending less time tying candy bags and letting someone else do that while I'm out getting new business,” she predicts. “I think my role is going to be changing as the company gets better and bigger.”

“Eventually, I want to be on the beach in Jamaica and call into the office to check everything is okay,” she laughs.

Visit Edible Promotions Inc.

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