A big part of understanding ‘who we are’, is through sharing our story:
It all began with an empty feed mill in a small town. Our family owned pet food business started in 1991 with a company called Spectrum Feed Services Ltd, a livestock feed mill in the village of Moorefield, north of Waterloo, Ontario. The objective of Spectrum Feed Services was to concentrate on providing a package of feed related services and custom formulated diets primarily to the dairy industry. Most people thought we were crazy to start a business from scratch in the highly competitive feed industry.
It was our goal to work closely with farmers by analyzing home grown feeds and supplement them with necessary nutrients. Profitable milk production requires excellent animal health. As milk production increased due to genetics, environment, feed quality and animal husbandry the impact of nutrition on animal health became increasingly important. Animal health and longevity drives all of our product development. We have fed everything from elephants to mice!
Getting into the pet food business started almost by accident. One morning, early in 1995, a millwright company told me that an extruder needed to be moved from a company in Guelph by the end of that day. (An extruder is a large piece of equipment that cooks the kibble of dry pet food). Being impulsive by nature, I decided to check it out. I learned this extruder was still in production, that parts were available and that its normal selling price was in excess of $200,000. When I saw it in shambles on the loading dock, I knew I had to have it. $3,000 was offered and we finalized the deal for not much more. At this time, we were tight financially to expand the business so the unit remained in storage.
It wasn't until 1998 that this extruder came to life again, when a man named Keith Schaefer convinced me to put it into production. What looked like a steal three years ago, made me sweat just thinking about the cost of installation and subsequent warehouse conversions.
Keith Schaefer was hugely instrumental in our product development. He was a key person in developing the largely popular Technical brand of dog food. Keith's philosophy was always "keep it simple". Whenever we use complicated ingredients, access products from other countries and generally formulate diets to fit what the marketing team wants, we lose sight of what is most important for the animal. He convinced me that ingredients like corn, wheat, chicken and pork meals were excellent ingredients. Equally important was that they could all be accessed locally. To this day, I am continually in discussion with nutrition experts and industry professionals and they all agree that these ingredients are outstanding. We are committed to keeping the products simple without ever compromising nutrition.
As part of the simplicity, The Great Canadian and the Legacy Valuing Tradition lines carry minimal preservatives other than what is in the vitamins and what is needed to stabilize the fat. There are companies now asking for preservatives to maintain pet foods for 18 months. We think this is ridiculous. We want dogs and cats to get the freshest products possible. As part of this, we ship products from our plant within days of manufacturing directly to retailers. There is no substitute for fresh food that contains no preservatives, artificial flavors or coloring. Our goal is outstanding nutrition, "no bells or whistles", no ingredient manipulation, minimal preservatives, fresh product, and equally important is our approach to give excellent value. We believe that fancy ingredients do little than raise the price for the customer and the producer. This even shows up in our packaging. We use one simplified style of bag for all of our Great Canadian products with colour coded stickers.
We access most of our ingredients locally, thanks to my son, Mark. One of his most important responsibilities is controlling the movement of ingredients. This is no simple task. 99.6% of all ingredients in our top selling pet foods come from 100 km of our production facility.
Today, we produce three distinct pet food lines as well as many private label products. By working closely with leading professionals in this industry from formulation, manufacturing and quality control, we continually create products we are proud of.
Understanding our approach to feeding your pet is vitally important to us. Dogs have always been a big part of our lives… from my St. Bernards, Sebastian and Brandy when growing up, to Theo, Max, and Queen, all German Shepherds that we patiently parented over the last 30 years. (Queen is the header picture on our website).
There are a lot of stories that go on in this business. Thank you for reading ours.
Spectrum Feed Services Ltd./The Great Canadian Pet Food Company