Maureen and Rob Robinson celebrated 20 years of their Milsean business this past weekend, a business which continues to grow and thrive.
It all started as a home-based business at the family’s Emerald Acres horse ranch in south Aldergrove, and took a huge leap forward ten years later when the Robinsons purchased the former Aldergrove Fire Hall and transformed it into a confectionary and teahouse.
Over those years Maureen’s original Demerara Butter Crunch — dark buttery toffee poured onto fresh sliced almonds and coated with creamy white chocolate — has and continues to be the foundation of the business. This exquisite treat is sold across the country, at 1,200 stores as well as at fairs and trade shows.
The business expanded when they opened Milsean at the old fire hall in 2002, as they now had 5,600 square feet for their factory as well as a retail space for sweets and a tea shop. They also have their residence above, on the second storey, so they can keep a close hands-on of their business.
The location has become a tourist attraction and is also highly popular among Aldergrove residents, as a comfortable place to shop and relax with a beverage and light meals or treats. The expansion in 2006, with construction of a glass conservatory, has provided more seating, with the old world fireplace adding to the ambience and warmth.
Milsean’s wholesome menu has grown to include handmade soups, in-house spelt bread and attention to allergy-sensitive needs, with gluten-free and vegan offerings. Maureen also proudly notes that the ingredients of every food item are posted for customers to read.
Their gourmet food section offers items with natural ingredients and superb flavour. New this year is their take-home freezer section, filled with Milsean’s ready-to-bake scones, handmade soups and handmade gelato, among many other delights. They also have dry mixes and other packaged and prepared items such as coffees and teas and pancake mixes.
Their gift shop is also growing, with handmade items imported from Thailand, Peru and Morocco to choose from.
“We have no rules, as an independent business if we like something we buy it and offer it to our customers,” says Maureen.
Rob and Maureen are also proud to have created many jobs, which have become careers for some employees, who are all treated as part of the Milsean family.
“We treat everyone with respect, there is no pecking order here,” says Rob. “We currently have 20 employees, and are open seven days a week, and in the busy seasons we have up to 30 employees at one time.”
The Robinsons also contribute to the community, especially charitable projects such as Aldergrove Neighbourhood Services, Langley Lodge and Langley Memorial Hospital. Rob and Maureen also volunteer as cooks and servers once a month at the Garden to Table community dinner at St. Dunstan’s Church in Aldergrove.
“We are proud of this great community of Aldergrove,” says Maureen. “We strive to develop a warm, inviting environment with amazing sweets, decadent dessrts, quality teas and drinks and wholesome fresh foods.”