Dealer Profile: W.A. Grain and Pulse Solutions Expanding to Meet Needs of a Growing Industry (PCN Winter 2015) DEC 22 2014 | Consumers and Producers | Pulse Crop News
This article appeared in the Winter 2015 issue of Pulse Crop News.
W.A. Grain and Pulse Solutions was recently named Number 18 on Business Review Canada’s list of the country’s fastest growing companies, and it’s easy to see why.
“The expansion opportunities that are constantly shown to us and our market research are the most exciting recent developments for us,” said Chris Chivilo, who along with his wife Tracey, owns the company that now boasts 15 delivery points in Alberta and Saskatchewan. “We can sell it, but we need to source more. The vibrancy of the pulse industry and how it has grown with more lentils and different crops like faba beans being grown in Alberta has all fallen in front of us because we were the first ones here.”
Chris and Tracey founded W.A. Grain and Pulse Solutions in Innisfail in 2007 with the primary purpose of buying and selling export quality green and yellow peas. Since then, the company has grown to deal in all cereals, pulses and oilseed types and varieties. Volumes steadily increased each year, leading to the building of a processing facility in Bowden and the purchase of Bashaw Processors. In May 2013, W.A. Grain bought its first Saskatchewan processing facility in Vanguard. The company now has three locations, leases two others and has third-party shipping contracts with 10 additional facilities in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
With offices in Edmonton, Carstairs, Winnipeg and Toronto, in addition to trading and logistics offices in Vancouver, W.A. Grain and Pulse Solutions exports around the globe, including to China, India, Colombia, the Middle East and Europe.
“The main concerns of buyers are consistent quality and volumes,” Chivilo said. “Over the years, there has been more demand and not just from the countries that we targeted. The quality was always at the forefront, and with more volume came more expansion. There’s not an area in Alberta that we don’t buy from, and we also have a good market presence in southwest Saskatchewan.”
Quality issues were a big challenge this year due to the early frost and snow in some parts of the Prairies, Chivilo noted. Transportation has also been a concern.
“We definitely had issues last winter, but we found alternative means to enhance our shipping opportunities,” he explained. “We don’t have concerns this year in Central Alberta, but in the outlying areas we will be relying on inland container loading.”
Chivilo said that the Alberta Pulse Growers Commission is playing an important role in addressing issues like these, but also in connecting producers with dealers, and providing other valuable information about varieties, markets, research and trials.
As far as Chivilo is concerned, there may be issues that the pulse industry needs to address, but the future is bright. “I think Alberta will continue expanding pulse acres as alternatives to other crops,” he said. “We might see a certain type go down and another grow. There will likely be more (dealer) competition in the province, which is always good. That will lead to new facilities in key areas.”
Chivilo has some advice for pulse producers looking to sell their crops. He recommends that they do research on new buyers by checking with other growers and the Canadian Grain Commission about whether there have been any payment defaults or other concerns. He also encourages producers to check around for differences in pricing and delivery opportunities.
Chivilo invited any producers who may be interested in more information to email him at Chris.Chivilo@wagrain.ca. The company website address is http://www.wagrain.ca.