BUSINESS BEAT: TP means ‘terrific product’ for local businessman

Lawyer entrepreneur Jim Legh takes a stab at selling bamboo toilet paper

Victoria lawyer Jim Legh’s new company

Bamboo kind of grew on Jim Legh.

The Victoria lawyer, pub owner and Saanich resident really liked the feel of a new set of towels his wife bought for their Saanich home. He was already impressed with the look and durability of bamboo flooring he had installed there.

It wasn’t long before he started looking into other uses for the plant. Ultimately his search led him to toilet paper. Through a friend in the grocery business, he discovered that bamboo TP was being marketed in Australia. When that company didn’t appear interested in expanding to North America, Legh and his partner sourced the manufacturer in China.

In a matter of months, Legh’s new company, True Earth Paper, has a deal in place to produce Silk’n Soft toilet paper and sales agreements with several high-profile retailers.

“Toilet paper is something everyone in this part of the world uses,” Legh said of his investment in a ‘tree-free’  product. “I figured, why cut down trees for something you’re going to flush down the toilet?”

The paper is 70 per cent bamboo and 30 per cent cotton, sourced from leftover material from cloth production. The carbon footprint of importing the product from China is still less than domestically produced toilet paper from trees, Legh says, since bamboo produces 35 per cent more oxygen and absorbs four times the carbon as a similar-sized stand of hardwood trees.

Given that Silk’n Soft is the new kid on the toilet paper block, sales so far have been brisk, with thousands of packages sold to such stores as Thrifty Foods, Country Grocer, Market on Yates, Peppers, and Oxford Foods, among others. Legh says True Earth plans to focus on niche areas such as organic markets, health food stores and other grocers with a commitment to green retailing.

The paper sells for about the same as other toilet papers. The benefits of bamboo to the environment mean little when consumers are scanning the shelves for toilet paper, Legh acknowledges. That’s where the 30 per cent cotton comes in. “The cotton helps make it soft,” he says.

For more information on Silk’n Soft, visit silknsoft.ca or check them out on Facebook.

Mapping, info firm’s growth through the roof

GeoDigital International Inc., an aerial mapping and information management company specializing in the electrical utility industry, made the Deloitte Technology Fast 50TM list as the 12th fastest-growing tech company in Canada. It recorded more than 1,000 per-cent growth in profit between 2007 and 2011.

GeoDigital, which has a production centre on Topaz Avenue in Victoria, was also 2010 winner of VIATec’s product of the year award for its vegetation management solution.

Thrifty’s food drive underway across chain

Thrifty Foods has kicked off its annual Food for Families drive at all of its 29 stores. The grocer offers customers an opportunity to add $5, $10 or $20 to their order at the till for food vouchers that are transformed into groceries for families in need, through local food banks. The company raised $206,000 with the campaign last year.

Business goings-on around and about town

Canadian army Capt. James Eke has opened Eke Academy of Martial Arts in Esquimalt, specializing in techniques popularized by the late Bruce Lee.

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