You could say Rob and Geraldine Brouwer’s passion for breeding dogs has developed into big business a food business! Big Country Raw manufactures raw pet food sold direct to pet owners and pet stores across Ontario.
The Brouwer’s dog breeding hobby drove them to find a healthy food solution for one of their pets who suffered from severe allergies. After switching her to raw food and being astounded at the difference, they had all the dogs in the kennel adopt the diet.
FROM THE JUDGES
Big Country Raw demonstrated tremendous sales growth, quadrupling in the last four years. They have delivered (literally) on their customers’ needs by bringing their food right to the door. You can almost hear the tails wagging when the truck pulls up with another delivery!
Soon the husband-and-wife team found themselves making food for the dogs, even when the puppies moved to their new families despite the couple having their own hands full with five young children. “What was on the market wasn’t well-priced or made with high-quality ingredients, so in a moment of weakness I’d say to the new owners, I’ll make some this weekend. Come by and pick some up,'” says Geraldine Brouwer.
Word of mouth helped move the business from the Brouwer’s kitchen and into a manufacturing facility allowing them to keep pace with incredible growth. That steep upwards growth trajectory is likely to continue thanks to new eco-friendly, vacuum-sealed packaging that better protects the raw food.
To date, Big Country Raw is available at over 250 pet food retailers in Ontario, including Pet Valu, Global Pet Foods and Rens Pet Depots, and is also expanding into Quebec. “Education on raw feeding is an essential part of our [marketing] program to make retailers successful with sales,” says Brouwer. Also, they have a robust home delivery component, as many retailers are limited by freezer space.
And thanks to their close relationship and dialogue with customers, their offer has expanded to include a raw food line for cats. (The Brouwer family recently welcomed two kittens into their home along with their two Bernese Mountain Dogs after all, as Brouwer says, you have to know your customer!)
“It’s a real family business; we have lots of extended family members work with us. Our success is simply our passion for our business and a lot of hard work and listening to our customers,” she says modestly.