COMMISSARY CONNECT – INNOVATING AND CONNECTING BC’S FOOD INDUSTRY
Although this is an exciting time to be launching a unique social enterprise, there are many challenges to developing and growing viable food business in British Columbia. Lucky for us, however, we have the distinct privilege to be working with two passionate and incredibly knowledgeable innovators in the food industry through our partnership with Commissary Connect: Sarb Mund and Susan Levang.
Together they have been able to successfully grow Commissary Connect which now has three locations: 401 and 417 Industrial Avenue and 8811 Laurel Street, which is BC’s first Regional Food Hub and working towards being HACCP ready. Through their state-of-the-art approach to shared kitchen spaces, members like us have access to around the clock dedicated workstations, shared office space, and modern appliances with affordable rates based on a “pay-for-what-you-use” philosophy using patent-pending technology that enables online booking…all in a collaborative and supportive atmosphere. Because Goodly Foods is also considered an “anchor tenant”, and was involved early on in the process at Laurel Street, we were able to purchase and install two large steam kettles that can also be used by others in the facility once trained on the equipment.
“Everyone needs a place to start.” Says Susan, who has been working as the General Manager and in charge of Operations since 2016. “We are not just landlords. Our vision is to create a space where food entrepreneurs can connect with each other while growing their business.”
Currently, they work with close to 50 other food industry innovators at various stages of their business in all three locations. Since opening their doors in 2012, however, they can proudly say that they have been involved with over 200 small business owners. For most this has meant expanding their business models, but for some, it has also meant shifting what they do and how they do it. “People come to us with a business plan, but sometimes that plan needs work,” says Sarb. “Our role is to help everyone succeed. Sometimes that is getting them to the next level and at other times it means helping to identify an exit strategy.”
Sarb, who is the CEO and Founder, launched Commissary Connect in 2012 after struggling to find a suitable shared kitchen space for his food truck, the Soho Road Naan Kebab. But from the beginning, his vision went far beyond just renting cooking stations. He wanted to create a food business incubator that collaboratively connected people in the food industry all across the entire province.
Together, along with their talented team of staff and consultants, Sarb and Susan are well on their way to making that dream come true. “Sarb is the visionary and sees the big picture and likes to connect people,” says Susan. While according to Sarb “Susan is more the follow-through person. She makes sure that the ideas are deliverable.” Along with complementary skill sets, Sarb and Susan both also have solid business backgrounds. Sarb has CPA/CMA designations while Susan has her MBA.
According to Sarb their overall scope is always just expanding. “It is like a massive net that we have open at all times. And of course, we will see a ton of opportunity come our way and then it is a matter of sifting through to see which are the ones we can take on right now and which need to stay on the back burner.” Next on their road to expansion is to create a viable way to connect food hubs and commissaries all across the province to each other, while also eventually increasing that reach nationwide.
We are incredibly grateful to be one of the food pioneers in BC benefiting from our synergistic partnership with Commissary Connect. To have access to Sarb and Susan’s knowledge and expertise as we scale Goodly Foods, as well as a high-tech kitchen facility surrounded by other exciting food industry entrepreneurs, we are well-positioned to successfully grow our social enterprise with confidence and in great company.