May 16, 2008 By Jane Ayer
Every day in Canada, thousands of people bite into a doughnut or
Danish, and unknowingly get a sweet taste of some of the products Mimac
Every day in Canada, thousands of people bite into a doughnut or Danish, and unknowingly get a sweet taste of some of the products Mimac Glaze makes. The Brampton, Ont.-based business is a small company with some pretty big-name customers. But they’re customers president and CEO Dave Miles prefers not to broadcast, both for reasons of confidentiality, and also for the simple fact it’s just not the way he does business. It’s one of the reasons those big-name customers like working with him. He’s an honest, straightforward, unassuming guy they know they can trust. They also know they can trust the products he makes, which range from icing stabilizers to
glazes to cake icings to cream cheese icing to fondant.
“All we do is icing,” says Miles, summing it up.
|Dave Miles owns Mimac Glaze, a Brampton-based company that makes icings and glazes.|
It all began for Mimac Glaze 30 years ago. After growing up in a bakery run by his father, and eventually going to work for Weston, and then Standard Brands, selling Fleischmann’s Yeast, William “Bill” Miles, Dave’s father, found himself working for an American company selling icing stabilizers to Canadian bakeries. He quickly realized no one else in Canada was making these sorts of products at the time, and, nearing retirement, he saw it as the perfect business venture.
“It was something small he could do as he headed for retirement,” says Dave.
Bill started out with four customers, mixing the stabilizers on the weekend and selling to customers during the week. Dave, who was 28 at the time and working in the baking industry himself, helped out on weekends, while Dave’s mom handled the books for the business.
And then came the advent of frozen dough in the early ’80s, with Danishes and other sweet goods in need of icing cropping up in convenience stores and gas stations across the country.
“That’s when things really started to grow with Mimac,” says Dave. “Not everyone knew how to do icing”– especially not an icing that was shelf stable.
With this new demand, Mimac Glaze Ltd. needed more attention than part-time workers and an at-home business could offer, so, in 1982, Bill set up shop in the current Brampton location (just north of Toronto) and Dave joined the business full time.
Thirty years later, the business ships to 19 countries around the world and has five full-time workers, along with a number of self-contractors and consultants who handle everything from sales to accounts payable (which Dave’s sister, Marion, handled until she retired a few years ago), to product development, to food safety. Marion and Dave took over the business from their parents in 1990, a transition that was inevitable, although Dave says he still chats with his father about technical issues.
“We were like Batman and Robin,” says Dave with a smile. “He’s the only other man I know that I can talk to about the specifics related to the business.”
Once the frozen dough market matured, Mimac expanded into other areas, such as cake icings, fondant, and cream cheese icing for a company that tops its popular cinnamon rolls with it.
But the basics are what Mimac focuses on: they’re what Dave sees as the com-pany’s strength. The fondant they make, for example, comes in three basic colours, which customers can flavour and colour as they see fit. Which doesn’t mean Mimac says no to customers who are looking for something specific. In fact, with a background in product development, Dave is a self-professed “techie.” When customers come looking for a GMO-free icing or a trans fat-free product (which they have), Dave says he’s in his element.
“That’s the kind of challenge I like. I go into the lab, shut the door and start the research.”
But sticking to the basics is what has earned Mimac the reputation as the go-to business for icing.
“It’s known in the industry if you’ve got an icing problem, you go to Mimac,” says Dave. “When all else fails, they come to us, because of our reputation.”
That reputation includes an open-door policy for customers to visit the plant and production area, an 8,800-square-foot, HACCP-certified area. The entire place is immaculate and perfectly organized, flowing from dry production area to wet production area, to storage to packaging.
What’s in the cards for Mimac once Dave retires? It’s something he’s already started to think about. He plans to continue consulting (he’s even started up a consulting business called Paragon) and says he’d also like to teach, perhaps at George Brown College, where he was once a student.
“I don’t see any succession in the business,” says Dave.
In the meantime, Mimac will continue doing what it has done so well (and so quietly) for three decades – and thousands of Canadians will continue licking Mimac icing from their fingers without knowing it.
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