Peggy Thompson, Okanagan Poultry Processing, Kelowna
Steady demand in a niche market has guaranteed the opportunity for Peggy Thompson’s business, Okanagan Poultry Processing. Rural and semi-rural farmers in the Okanagan Valley with small backyard flocks of chickens and turkeys needed help to process their stock in a safe and humane manner. Thompson met that need with a mobile processing facility that comes to the farmyard and provides custom on-site processing of non-industry raised chicken and turkey.
Okanagan Poultry Processing was founded in 2008 in direct result to the implementation of the meat inspection regulation of 2004 which caused the closure of every small custom poultry abattoir in the Okanagan Valley. Thompson built her business within a new industry regulatory structure from the Province of British Columbia. Thompson invested countless hours in working with government to prove her plans were safe and effective.
During the busy season Thompson and her small team of two employees can process several hundred birds per day under the watchful eye of government inspectors. The demand for service in the Okanagan outstrips the maximum capacity of Okanagan Poultry Processing. Service is seasonal and Thompson puts in long hours during peak demand. In an effort to take better personal care of herself she has no immediate plans to expand, but hopes others will see the need and enter the marketplace.
Q. What inspired you to take the leap and start your own business?
A. There was a huge need for this type of business and no one else was willing to take the risk. Especially after seeing how much government red tape was involved and witnessing other similar businesses deciding to close rather than conform to the regulation.
Q. What’s the biggest lesson you learned when starting your business?
A. I can't do it all by myself, the hardest thing I had to deal with is that I needed help, and to learn to rely on others to help me get this happening.
Q. What are your goals for the business?
A. I'd love to see a fleet of little abattoirs in the valley. There is enough business in this area to have at least two or three units just like mine servicing the small custom market.
Q. What is your greatest strength as an entrepreneur?
A. Being exceedingly stubborn certainly has helped me get where I am today. Illegitimi non carborundum! I had to have the ability to think outside the box. I negotiated my ideas with people who had the power to make a difference and allow me to start something new.
Q. What personal lessons have you learned as an entrepreneur?
A. It's a very rewarding experience, and I'm much stronger than I thought. Funny thing is, none of my friends are surprised at what I've been able to accomplish. I guess they knew what I could do all along. I'm glad I know it now too.