Picking’s good for regrowth period, president says
J.W. Mason and Sons Ltd. was recently granted bankruptcy protection, but employees are hard at work, harvesting apples in the fields and sorting and packing them in the local plant. This photo was taken Human Resources and Skills Development Minister Diane Finley’s visit to Mason’s on June 26. (File photo)
J.W. Mason & Sons Ltd. is turning to the courts for protection while the company attempts to rebuild.
Peter Harrison, president of the Three Mile Plains-based apple growing business,says J.W. Mason & Sons filed for a division one proposal under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act Aug. 16.
“What it does is give us protection from our creditors until we can work out a proposal that we were trying to do voluntarily,” he said.
A former bookkeeper for Mason’s and its sister company, Select Transport, stole close to $290,000 from the privately owned Wells-family businesses between October 2007 and September 2009. It’s been tough times at Mason’s ever since.
Clarke Road Transport Inc., of Halifax, acquired Select Transport’s operating assets through a bankruptcy sale supervised by receiver PricewaterhouseCoopers Inc. in November.
Harrison says filing for protection is another step on the road to recovery for J.W. Mason & Sons.
“The reassurance for the community is that it will be business as usual. We’re working through a situation that is years old — that goes back to when the theft happened — and we’re trying to straighten ourselves out with protection over a period of months.”
Harrison says Mason’s had six to 10 pickers in the field as of Aug. 20, and 30 to 40 packers at their Windsor Back Road facility. He expects there will be 100 workers on staff when the harvest is in “full swing” Sept. 15.
“There is no job loss,” he said.
Harrison predicts crop failures at major North American production facilities in Ontario, New York and Michigan will direct more consumers to Mason’s.
“Our crop is very abundant, and not very abundant in some of the main growing areas, so the demand for our product is high, but also at a higher price, and we have above average crop.
“We’re looking at a good season here.”