If ever there was a stalwart and trustworthy business in British Columbia, it is Buckerfield’s. The name Buckerfield’s has come to represent down-to-earth people living down-to-earth lives and sharing down-to-earth values, doing the best they can.
Over its history since 1919, Buckerfield’s was the most important supplier of feed and farm supplies to local communities throughout British Columbia. For people living in rural areas, Buckerfield’s was the only place to go to have their needs respected and met.
Underlying the bond of trust between Buckerfield’s and its customers was the shared values that stem from old-school farming. Back in the day, farmers lived on their land, raised their families there, grew their own food there and lived out their days that way. The animals, livestock, poultry and pets were as much a part of their families as their spouses and children. Every farmer knew that you take care of your land and your animals first, before you take care of yourself. Your life depended on it. That was sustainability back in the day.
A business built on trust
The founder of Buckerfield’s, Ernest Buckerfield, translated those into the values of his company. His products had to be trustworthy because the poultry, livestock and pets could not help themselves. His stores could not run out of products or offer something of low quality because the real customers, the chickens, horses and cattle, could not go a day without proper care or nutrition. His seed and fertilizer products had to work ‘as advertised’ because the farmers only got one shot at the growing season. The standards were set by nature and reflected in Buckerfield’s operations.
Buckerfield’s reputation for honesty, integrity and vision led to dramatic expansion of his business. In the 1920s and ’30s Buckerfield’s fanned out across the lower Mainland into the Fraser Valley, consolidating many smaller operations like the New Westminster Elevator Company, Richmond Feed Company, Marpole Grain Company, McLelland and McCarter, Banford Brothers in Chilliwack , Westminster Grain, Whonnock Ellison Milling in Kamloops and a half interest in the B.C. Pea Growers. By 1929 Buckerfield’s operated 21 retail branches to become the largest feed company in the province.
The 1933 takeover of rival Vancouver Milling and Grain Co. from Spillers of England firmly established Buckerfield’s throughout the Fraser Valley and on Vancouver Island. Buckerfield’s then began to serve the emerging home and garden market with new products for those consumers.
By 1936 Ernie Buckerfield was one of the province’s most successful and influential businesspersons. Already a member of the prestigious Vancouver Club, he was invited to join its inner sanctum, the Round Table, a weekly meeting of the city’s leading businessmen. As the 1930s ended, Buckerfield consolidated his position with feed producers, retailers and consumers, holding seminars and demonstrations to help farmers understand modern feeding techniques and the importance of quality feeds.
A household name
By the 1950s, Buckerfield’s was a household name amongst farmers, hobbyists, pet owners, gardeners and homemakers in 24 communities in BC. The prominent stylized “B” and the Buckerfield’s logo could be found on buildings and billboards in almost every town in southern British Columbia.
In 1952 Mr. Buckerfield fell ill. Knowing his future, he sold a controlling block of shares to James Richardson International of Pioneer Grain Co. and H.E. Sellers of Federal Grain Co. The new owners proceeded to downsize the business and sold off many of the assets.
In 2005, the remaining business was sold to five BC shareholders, three of which were longstanding store managers in Buckerfield’s while the other two were longstanding Buckerfield’s customers with acreages on Vancouver Island. Over the next few years, the new shareholders proceeded to update the five remaining stores, purchasing another longstanding store in Salmon Arm and opening new locations in West Kelowna and Abbotsford. The head office was established in Duncan, BC.
Buckerfield’s looks forward
Currently, Buckerfield’s is building a new store in Langford, BC to open by April 1, 2018. The new store will feature a huge selection of pet food, feed and home and garden products. It will also feature an extensive set of photographic murals of Buckerfields history, framed by genuine old school barn wood from three dismantled barns in Matsqui Flats, BC.
True to the example of Ernie Buckerfield, the company continues to apply old-school values of honesty, integrity and reliability throughout its operations. Buckerfield’s pays ‘living wages’ to its employees, provides seminars and training for customers and staff and finds new products to offer every day. Above all else, Buckerfield’s provides for the essential needs of pets, livestock, poultry, horses, bees and homeowners looking for a bit of sustainability to call their own.