The owner of Nickel City Cheese couldn't be happier with her decision to pursue her dream. On a one-year sabbatical from her mainstream job, Nicole Paquin opened the family-operated business in Greater Sudbury in August 2018, marking the culmination of four years of research and training.
Paquin laughs as she recalls her initial attempt at cheese making. "The first cheese I made was mozzarella," revealed Nicole Paquin, owner and fromagère of Nickel City Cheese. "I bought the ingredients to make it at home after watching how to do it on YouTube. From that moment onward, I knew that I had found my passion."
Convinced that she had found her 'whey', Paquin took some courses and then obtained her certification in cheese making from the University of Guelph in 2017.
For help with construction and equipment costs of her production facility, Paquin turned to Nickel Basin Federal Development Corporation to realize her dream. Since its inception in 2000, Nickel Basin has invested $38.7 million in Sudbury businesses, which has in turn, leveraged more than $100.7 million from other sources. These investments, as of December 31, 2018, have supported the creation or maintenance of 3,665 full-time jobs and 2,407 part-time positions.
Nickel Basin offers free business advice and workshops, as well as commercial financing to entrepreneurs and those looking to start a business in its catchment area.
Fulfilling a niche in the region, Paquin's request for financial assistance received unanimous support of Nickel Basin's board of directors. Senior Loans Officer Jason Sullivan says community response has far exceeded expectations.
"On one of my visits, they had customers lined up to pull into the driveway," remarked Jason Sullivan, Senior Loans Officer with Nickel Basin. "Demand has been incredible from the very beginning."
Paquin produces bricks, cheese slices and fresh curds which are selling like hot cakes. Available in a variety of flavours, dill pickle, jalapeno, barbecue, Frank's Hot and maple bacon are the top sellers.
In addition to creating four full-time jobs and up to six part-time positions, Paquin is proud to be using milk, through the Dairy Farmers of Ontario, that comes from 14 farmers in the Verner and St. Charles area. Her biggest challenge as a new operator is keeping up with demand. Providing Smith Market's three locations with cheese every week, as well as two area butcher shops, means she often sells out by the end of the day.
"To increase productivity, I need a new pasteurizer and another two vats that would substantially cut our processing time," explained Paquin. "As we've discovered, the market is there to expand."
Paquin remains optimistic that she'll be able to address her capacity issues, recognizing that increasing demand for her product is a good challenge to have.
To find out more about realizing your business dream, contact Nickel Basin Business Federal Development Corporation at 705-673-9802 or your local Community Futures Development Corporation.