Today, the Friesen Group of Companies stands as a symbol of survival, success and strength. The cornerstone company, Clearbrook Grain & Milling, has now succeeded in its 54th year of uninterrupted business under the Friesen family leadership. This continual success is the result of innovation, commitment and hard work. Over the years, the company has grown from a small, virtually “unknown”, independent feed supplier, to one that holds second position in a market environment made up of fierce competitors, from major co-operatives to national companies.
Initially, feed was custom mixed by Funk’s Feeds of Yarrow and marketed through a small warehouse and retail store located at 31962 South Fraser Way in Clearbrook. Due to an unfortunate fire in 1963, combined shareholder resources from the Friesen and Funk families were used to build the current mill in Matsqui Industrial Park. Throughout the years, various mill expansions and equipment additions enabled the plant to achieve production many times its original capacity.
Paralleling and complimenting this early growth was the company’s purchase and construction of various poultry enterprises. With the generous help of Jacob Friesen, a 40 acre abandoned farm was purchased on Clearbrook and McClure Road. This property was rapidly developed into an up to date egg laying and breeder operation. This purchase and development was the inception of “The Friesen Group of Companies” and encouraged the company to pursue another component of the agricultural supply chain. In 1964, it extended its business with the construction of a hatchery and a pullet grow operation on King Road, now known as Pacific Pride Chicks Ltd.
Expansion and Diversification
Whereas in the 50’s the foundation of the company was built, the 60’s were years of expansion and diversification, while the 70’s were a time for growth as many long established local co-ops and national companies began to disappear. The decade of the 80s allowed for further diversification in livestock production, as the broiler hatching and turkey hatching egg production became another aspect of the company business. This decade was also noteworthy because during these years, the next generation of Friesen family members became involved in the company’s various operations. The 90s were years of market extension, company expansion and capital re-organization. Firstly, the feed division of the company extended beyond being primarily a poultry feed manufacturer. A dairy nutritionist was hired and the company began manufacturing feeds for a “new” livestock industry, the dairy market. Secondly, in 1990, an interest in Lamont Featherland Farms was purchased in Coburg, Oregon, to further compliment the hatchery business. Now known as Featherland Farms, this hatchery markets egg production stock throughout the Western states, Hawaii, and British Columbia. Finally, at the conclusion of the 1990s, the Friesen family became the sole shareholders in all of their corporate investments. Over the past year, the purchase of Excel Feeds Inc. and Natures' Pride Nutrition Inc. has further expanded our operations in order to add feed milling capacity, separate our dairy and poultry feed operations and formulate and manufacture our own ingredients.
Among the Companies’ hallmarks are its broad invovelement in industry issues, an extensive network of industry relationships, techincial expertise and family ownership. It is this, together with the values, vision and 175 professional staff that has enabled the Group to successfully meet the changing needs of local producers.
The Friesen Group has been priviledeged and prides itself in working with people who often have involvement in family farms, a passion for agriculture and/or who value the personal touch of working in a family-owned and operated business.