Food Processing and Manufacturing
Dion Wiebe, president of
Rossdown Natural Foods,
Integration is the key for Rossdown poultry
How much control do you want over your business? For Dan Wiebe, the answer is simple: more. In addition to being the founder of his B.C. poultry company, he’s also his own supplier, middle man and processor.
“I always felt that whoever controls the processing sector controls the industry,” Dan explains. “And I decided with my family that we wanted to be in control of our own destiny.”
Based in Abbotsford, Dan grew his Rossdown poultry business from one barn in 1971 to 29 barns today. The poultry population has had a similarly impressive expansion, up from 8,000 birds to 300,000, including broilers, broiler breeders, turkeys and ducks. In addition to Rossdown Farms, the family business includes Rossdown Natural Foods, which features 34,000 square feet for processing and 14,000 square feet of freezer space.
It’s a lot to manage. Fortunately for Dan, he can enjoy his first years of retirement knowing that his sons, Dion and Pat, are maintaining the family vision. While Pat manages human resources for Rossdown’s 100 employees, Dion serves as president of both companies.
“I’ve been involved in our family operation from a very young age, probably four or five years old,” Dion says. “From the time I remember, our business has been in a growth stage.”
With that growth comes challenge, but Dion believes that dealing with those challenges gives him experience that he can use in the future. One of the biggest obstacles Rossdown faced was accessing the capital required for their expansion and integration, which is when they started working with FCC.
“They were eager and willing to support our goal, our vision, for expansion in British Columbia,” Dan explains. “I like to bounce our ideas and vision off our FCC people. I find that they’re honest with me and when the ideas work, they support us. I appreciate the expertise that FCC has.”
Today, Rossdown also supplies feed and hatchlings to nearby farms, further solidifying their customer base and strengthening their integrated business model. In the future, Dion sees more reason for optimism.
“There are lots of opportunities, not only in the business but also to include my family. My children are five, seven and eight. They all have an interest in the operation and what I do. It would be great to follow that mentorship model my father used when he passed the operation down to us.”
As for their venture into integration, the Wiebe family sees another benefit: “We do it ourselves so we know it’s done right.”