``The other side of fear is success.``
—Gerhard Latka, Founder/Owner
Gerhard and Gabi Latka (who still own Crofter’s today), grew up and met in a rural village in Germany. Gerhard’s father owned a food flavor and extraction company where Gerhard absorbed the importance of flavor and high-quality ingredients. After a road-trip through North America, Gerhard fell in love with the sheer beauty of the landscape and returned home with a clear vision. He convinced Gabi that moving to Parry Sound, a small Northern Ontario community, was simply the right thing to do. And that’s how it all started.
The couple take the plunge and buy a former Laundromat for their fruit-filled dream. Everyone pitches in to re-purpose it, including Gabi with a “bun in the oven” (soon to be named Dan).
After one year of hard work (just as they start testing the goods) their one and only kettle explodes.
The fruit spread is born! They push spread-boundaries by sticking to their organic guns. You can see ‘organic’ right there on their first label (even though the FDA didn’t pass regulations until 2000).
The first few years were a struggle, but Gabi and Gerhard had many friends and family for support (the babysitting was welcome). Here’s Oma Latka and Sebastian coming in for a taste test.
Gerhard travels to trade shows to get their fruit spread into as many hands (and mouths!) as possible. Often he had Gabi, Dan, and Sebastian in tow. Notice that the spread already has a new look.
Crofter’s is in full swing and it’s taking all hands on deck. Here those hands are busy stacking pallets. (Perhaps the least-fun job of spread-making.)
The spread gets a new face…or two. Susie and Sally are introduced as Crofters’ first branding effort.
The daring family reinvests the budding profits from their spread and begin expansion efforts.
Bear is born. His expertise and eye for the ripest of berries help the family launch the Superfruit line.
Bear does the trick! Crofter’s receives national recognition in the media as the best spread on the market. This generous (well deserved) attention facilitates more growth.
As a family, the Latkas decide to go all-in. And we mean, all-in. They break ground for a state-of-the-art, sustainability-focused production facility. Bear approves.
With the new building complete in the beginning of 2018 (and doing great things like reducing water consumption by over 85%), the Latkas—Gerhard, Gabi, Dan, Luke, Sebastian (and Bear)—know that the future is rosy. Even though Crofter’s has grown, changed, and improved, they still take joy in being involved in every facet of their spread and are confident they’ll still be at it many, many years from now.
then and now
Gerhard used to drive his red van to pick-up strawberries.
Now he (still) visits our partner farms often. Even in China!
Crofter’s has always taken quality control seriously.
Today, we test for over 415 herbicides and pesticides.
Originally, we hand-picked every case!
Now packing is much quicker and can be more versatile.
Remember the pallet-stacker men?
We got a machine that organizes pallets for them.
Our first large-scale freezer was hand assembled by these guys.
Nowadays we have over 20,000 sq ft of freezer space.
Our original filler had consistency issues.
Today, we can perfectly fill 350 jars per minute!