Jean-Paul Deveau remembers when Acadian Seaplants fit in his bedroom.
Now they are moving into a 100,000 sq. ft production plant in Cornwallis Park.
"We're at capacity now across the street," said Deveau at a press conference to announce funding for the project. "We are expanding our facilities to set ourselves up to be competitive on global basis and to build the economy of Nova Scotia."
The $4 million expansion project will take another two years to complete and will allow Acadian Seaplants to increase production and develop new product lines.
Greg Kerr, the Member of Parliament for West Nova was on hand Monday, Feb. 20 to announce a $490,000 repayable loan from the Atlantic Canadian Opportunities Agency.
"It's particularly special what goes on here," said Kerr. "That's why I'm proud that ACOA is providing this funding. As we move forward in this province, it's more and more about looking outside the box, it's about innovation and change. With the kind of leadership we have at Acadian Seaplants, we are going to see growth right here in southwest Nova."
Deveau's father Louis started the chemical production company in 1980. They use seaweed to produce biostimulants, fertilizers and soil amendments for agriculture markets around the world. They have 300 employees in eight countries and clients in 70.
They employ another 300 seasonal seaweed harvesters in the Maritimes and Maine.
They moved into Cornwallis Park in 1991.
"We loved the location on the edge of this large seaweed resource," said Louis. "And Cornwallis Park offered all these services and facilities, like water, that we needed. It was perfect."
Slowly though they outgrew what he called their "brick building" and moved to the "steel building". Bit by bit he said they added to the steel building until they couldn't add anymore.
"And the opportunity arrived for us to move into this wonderful building," said Louis. "Now some people call this the Shaw building; some call it the ex-Shaw building; some call it the building across the street.
"But none of that is quite right," he said pulling back drapes on a new sign for the building. "We have a new name for this building-the Deveau Centre."
Jean-Paul says they have built the company by investing in four areas: research and development., international market development, sustainability and people.
"No question we have the best people in the world," said Jean-Paul. "If our products are the best in the world it is because are people are the best. They manufacture our product, they do the research so no one is ahead of us in the world."
Acadian Seaplants employees nine PhDs.
Jeff Hafting moved to Annapolis Royal with his family five years ago to do research into growing seaweed on land.
He is from Vancouver, has a PhD in marine botany from the University of British Columbia and he ran into Jean-Paul where he was living and working at the time.
"We have lived in Vancouver and Hawaii," says Hafting. "My wife and I both agree that this is the nicest place we have ever lived."
Alan Critchley, originally from the U.K., heads up research for Acadian Seaplants. He has a PhD in Marine Ecology and moved here after 20 years n South Africa and six years in France. He met Jean-Paul at a seaweed conference in the Philippines and brought his wife and three children to live in Nova Scotia.
"The job is fantastic," he says. "I'm driven by the science. We all have to work to make money but there is a real big feel-good factor to this job. Our employees know it and it motivates them: we're creating a more sustainable world through the science of seaweed."
Critchley says it's challenging to keep young people in rural Nova Scotia. He says young researchers often only stay a short time and then want to move to the city.
"Young people aren't going to stay here unless we can develop the community and the facilities and society they're looking for."
Jean-Paul says the expansion is a step in that direction.
"There will be jobs but they will come incrementally," he says. "Now we have more capacity, but in order to use it, we need more sales. So there will be jobs in sales and technical support. From that comes manufacturing jobs and associated spin offs."
Deveau says the ACAO loan provides access to capital that the banks aren't willing to give. It will, he says, enable the company to maintain their competitive edge on the world stage.
"I've said it before, without the support of ACAO, we'd still be a successful company, but we'd be a much smaller company."