McNaughton preaches ambition to Chamber of Commerce

Dave Mathieson
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AMHERST - The fire of ambition is set alight for various reasons.
Some people want to escape a life they can't tolerate, others want to prove they can make it on their own. Some people pursue the financial freedom that comes with success, and others have a vision of a better life they want to create - a little slice of heaven in a sometimes harsh world.
Bruce McNaughton's ambition was sparked by all of the above.
McNaughton, the owner and operator of Prince Edward Island Preserve Company in New Glasgow, P.E.I., was the guest speaker at the inaugural President's Dinner, hosted by the Amherst and Area Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday night at the Wandlyn Inn.
McNaughton made an unconventional presentation and gave an unconventional speech about his road to success.
Without notes and wearing a kilt, the 53-year-old McNaughton told a story of how, while growing up in Moncton, he "was raised in a home that wasn't necessarily ideal for one's mental health or self-esteem."
He first left home at the age of 15 when an opportunity to move to North Carolina presented itself. He moved back home a year later, just as his family was moving to P.E.I.
McNaughton described himself at the time as a sensitive, idealistic teenager searching for meaning in life.
"There were a couple of ladies in the neighborhood who would throw their Better Homes and Gardens magazines in the garbage and I'd walk by and see them, take them out of the garbage and take them home and cut out some of the pictures," said McNaughton. "It's kind of weird for a guy but I guess I needed a concrete vision of what a better life looked like."
That vision began to take shape in 1985 when, after an unsuccessful venture into the restaurant business, McNaughton found himself with 200 pounds of leftover frozen strawberries.
He was in a friend's restaurant kitchen making preserves when his friend walked in with a glass of Grand Marnier. McNaughton, who doesn't drink, took the Grand Marnier and poured it into his batch of preservatives.
"My friend tasted it and said, 'This is dynamite, we'll put it on the cheesecake,' and his customers fell in love with it," said McNaughton. "Three weeks later we had the preserves in a health food store in Charlottetown called the Root Cellar, and before long we had the preserves right across the Island."
His then-girlfriend, Shirley, whom he soon married, was an artist who designed the labels and in that first year he sold 450 jars of preserves. His business now produces more than 100,000 jars annually.
McNaughton has two daughters, ages 19 and 21, and said he thinks of himself as more of a family man than a businessman.
Over the years he has overcome many financial setbacks but faced them head on and, as a result, always found creditors willing to help dig him out of the holes he created.
"It's not about credit ability," McNaughton said. "It's about credibility.
"And I've also learned the definition of success is, 'If you fall down seven times, you get up eight.'"

Organizations: Chamber of Commerce, Prince Edward Island Preserve Company, Wandlyn Inn Grand Marnier Better Homes and Gardens

Geographic location: New Glasgow, Moncton, North Carolina P.E.I. Charlottetown Iceland

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