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Feature on Randsland Farms

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Nova Scotia Business Inc. along with its partners and sponsors presented The Nova Scotia Export Achievement Awards, an annual celebration and recognition of excellence in exporting across Nova Scotia on May 21, 2015. Randsland Farms Inc. was one of nine companies that were celebrated at the 2015 provincial EAA awards ceremony in Halifax. 

Nova Scotia Business Inc. (NSBI) sat down with Andrew Rand, Operations Manager and Sales for Randsland Farms Inc., to learn about the company’s history and milestones. Randsland supplies broccoli to Loblaws and Sobeys throughout Atlantic Canada. In 2013, the company began to export greens to the USA.

Q: Can you share your company’s history in Nova Scotia?
A: The Rands arrived with the New England Planters in the 1700s. My grandfather Eric Rand grew up on Fox Hill Farm, and in the 1950s he came to Delhaven and bought the land that is now Randsland Farms. My father, Bruce Rand, would tell you that Eric started Randsland, but it was really Dad. In that sense, we’re a first-generation farm, because Dad still runs it. I’m proud of that – most large farms like ours are fourth or fifth generation.

We got into broccoli in the early 1980s. Investing in liquid ice technology gave our product a long shelf life, and we captured the lion’s share of the Atlantic Canada market. In 2013, we were approached to export greens to the USA during the summer, when it’s too hot there to grow them. Our challenge was to produce as much as we could in a short window of time. In 2013, we sent them more than 20 tractor-trailer loads of collard, kale, turnip and mustard greens. Last year, we sent 52.

Q: What does being recognized by your local business community mean to your business and your employees?
A: It feels good. Like many in Atlantic Canada, we’ve tended to keep our business dealings private. But in the past year, we’ve abandoned that. We were proud of what we were doing and felt good about sharing it. That led to our being nominated for and winning Outstanding Exporter of the Year for the Annapolis Valley Chamber of Commerce. Before that, I think we were like honorary guests of the business community; now I feel we are members of that community.

Q: What factors have contributed to your success?
A: Great customer relationships, efficiency, and entrepreneurial drive. An open line of communication that brings solutions, not problems, to our customers is essential. Also, any customer we deal with knows we have to make money to give them a quality product. But we need to be efficient with our costs. And we need to be always searching for new technologies, products, and ideas as well as having the entrepreneurial drive to see them through. When things are smooth, don’t get comfortable – you want to look ahead for choppy water.

Dad credits the family with the farm’s success. His brothers worked with him to help him get going. Three of them and a sister still work here, as do my brother Luke and I. It helps that we are a large, close-knit family.

Q:. What do you consider will be key to your success going forward?
A: Being open to integrating new ideas and technologies, while rediscovering the old ideas of reverence and stewardship for the land. All this must be coupled with a strong and positive business drive.

Q: What was your biggest learning or a-ha moment?
A: Dad and Mom were Atlantic Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers in 1987. When they went to Calgary for the national awards, a couple of Ontario farmers took Dad under their wing. They shared a lot of the technology – the liquid ice and other things – and planting techniques to improve yield. Dad credits those Ontario farmers with helping him get to the next stage.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you would give to new exporters, or companies considering exporting from Nova Scotia?
A: Have your costs ironed out, and strive for maximum efficiency. Exporting is typically higher volume, lower profit margin. And the customer relationship – if you put in that extra effort to make it seem you’re part of a family, it goes a long way.

Q: And finally, what’s the best thing about being a Nova Scotia exporter?
A: For me, it’s pride in our Nova Scotia culture and the quality of what we’re able to produce here. When a group from the USA came up to visit, they were blown away. They loved the people and the ambience, and they were very impressed with the quality of what we do.

Randsland Farms is in Delhaven, between the North Mountain and the Minas Basin. In 2014, Randsland was awarded the Annapolis Valley Chamber of Commerce Export Achievement Award.

If you are interested in becoming an exporter, the following resources can get you started:

The Small Business Development Program helps eligible businesses participate in a global supply chain, become first-time exporters, remove barriers to exporting, or increase exports by getting customized expertise.

The Export Growth Program helps eligible businesses with projects to overcome export-growth barriers, such as travel to market and helping with costs for events such as trade shows and conferences.

Stay up-to-date with our e-newsletter that includes upcoming trade development initiatives that you can participate in and highlights trade activity in Nova Scotia and beyond.