Jason Lake, field operations manager of LPL Management based in Lloydminster stands in front of some of the grain handling systems that his company installed for Verdient Foods, a new pulse food processing facility in Vanscoy Sask. built for Canadian Hollywood film director James Cameron and his wife Suzy. SUBMITTED PHOTO
Jason Lake says he’s a bad actor who will stick to his role as field operations manager for LPL Management, based in Lloydminster.
Lake is not auditioning for Hollywood as he builds Virdient Foods Inc., a turnkey pulse food processing facility for Canada’s Oscar-winning film director, James Cameron and his wife Suzy.
LPL is a grain handling specialist that is putting the finishing touches to the facility in Vanscoy, SK.
“I would think that you’ll see marketable product coming out of this facility for Dec. 1,” said Lake.
Once fully operational, the 160,000 metric-ton facility will become the largest organic pea protein fractionation facility in North America.
Verdient Foods’ focus will be value-added processing of extracting proteins, starches and fibres from Saskatchewan-produced pulse crops, using a natural process.
“The process within the fractioning line is still being completed and developed,” said Lake from the site.
“The equipment is installed, the electrical is done—it’s more in product development (that’s left).”
LPL has sourced the latest existing technologies from a variety of manufacturers for the pea protein fractionalization process.
“It’s the best of multiple different manufacturers’ equipment in order to accomplish the end game,” said Lake.
To complete the project, Lake said each one of the manufacturers has to bring an aspect to the commissioning and verify their equipment and its level of completion and sign off on it.
“Once they’ve done that, then we bring everybody together for the actual commissioning,” he said.
“So the equipment has been turned; the ability to bring the product into it is there—it’s done.”
The final to do-list includes fine tuning air systems and getting the right volumes of air movement in the plant and things like that.
The Virdient plant features a 150 by 180 ft. processing room, an 80 by 80 ft. warehouse, and a 50 by 90 ft. office.
Lake said being associated with a project funded by the Camerons is a “great boost for LPL Management,” but his company was kept in the dark initially about who they were building for.
“We were sought out and interviewed three different times to do the project,” said Lake.
“We didn’t realize it was for Jim and Suzy Cameron at the time, but we were made aware of that a little further into the project once we got going.”
The Camerons have entered into a four-year research contract with the non-profit Saskatchewan Food Industry Development Centre to develop additional product lines.
They are also partners with Whitecap Dakota First Nations.
“We are working with Saskatchewan farmers through the Verdient Foods processing facility and the Food Centre to integrate food production with new value-added products,” said James Cameron in a launch news release in September.
Lake says today that he’s not surprised the Camerons are behind the project, especially knowing their drive to get more viable protein products from agriculture.
“I am amazed by their research and commitment to put in a product out there,” said Lake.
“It’s a very brand-orientated market, and to put your name on a brand is a huge commitment.”
Lake ranks the Virdient project among LPL’s top-five largest products in the agricultural sector that will spread awareness of the company’s forte and track record covering the three prairie provinces.
“We are a design build company which specializes in construction, maintenance, renovation and repair of grain handling and processing facilities,” said Lake.
“We have been growing not just based on this project, but we’ve been growing based on our ability to service our clientele.”
Lake said LPL has a very large repeat customer base for constructing grain handling and processing facilities, and for developing a maintenance relationship and renovation relationship with them.
“One thing these facilities have to be able to do is, they have to able to modify their systems to handle what the new crop looks like,” said Lake.
LPL’s project list in Saskatchewan includes MGM Seed and Grain in Saskatoon, White Mud Trading in Frontier, Briercrest Grain in Briercrest, Watrous Grain Exchange in Watrous and North West Terminal in Unity.
“Our commitment is with the growers, so we promote the growers having anything to do with value-added products to get better revenue out of the land,” said Lake.
“So with that, we do a lot of small processing lines —if you look at the company history we’ve built probably 18 or 20 facilities.”
He said they have “stood” in excess of 200 bucket elevators (grain legs).
LPL current has about 42 employees on the payroll, including grads from Lakeland College, where Lake got his first trade ticket as a welding journeyman.
“I fully believe in the Lakeland College program and we have attended job fairs there and we promote ourselves to the apprentices and the graduates there,” he said.
“My son is a journeyman red seal welder and he got his journeyman at Lakeland —my daughter is in business at Lakeland right now.”