Founded in 1982 by Lee and Jane Corey, Corey Nutrition began as a small distribution business. After their Ontario supplier went out of business, the Coreys built their own facility at home in Fredericton. They began providing aquafeed and specialized equipment to the aquaculture sector.
However, now nearly forty years later, Corey Nutrition has grown and evolved into one of Canada’s top pet food companies. In fact, they were the world’s first pet food manufacturers with food safety protocols deemed rigorous enough for human-grade food.
“Our pet food formulas are manufactured right here in Atlantic Canada,” notes Shannon Daley, Director of Human Resources. “And we use as many locally-sourced ingredients from homegrown vendors as possible.”
Corey Nutrition’s global success in export markets is strengthened by a commitment to creating a diverse, international workforce at home.
ONB spoke to Daley to learn more about that.
ONB: Corey has had great success recruiting international students. Tell us about that and how it’s helped the company better target new markets.
Daley: International students have been a huge benefit to the company. They create opportunities for different internal discussions based on their business and cultural experiences. Our international hires really understand the nuances of our various export markets and target customers in those regions. We have two international student hires; one is our Logistics Specialist for exports while the other is now our Export Manager. In addition to that, we have five international hires who came to us from Russia, Nigeria, Uganda, and Ukraine.
Where are your customers and where are you targeting for additional growth?
Right now, we have certain products being distributed through pet specialty stores, across our region and the rest of Canada. We’re also partnered with Global Pet Foods, the largest pet food chain in Canada. We sell online via Chewy.com and are in the process of developing e-commerce channels through major online retailers like Amazon and Alibaba. To put our reach in perspective, over the past decade we have developed export customers in the US, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, Israel, Indonesia, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Egypt, Peru, Chile, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, and more.
Jay Yang, our Export Manager, came to us from Beijing, and he is key to our China market strategy. We have already made progress moving into China; 2019 saw us sign a five-year distribution agreement with Dogness International Corporation, a publicly-traded Chinese company. Jay lead those talks for us and handles our communications with China’s agriculture department.
What advice would you give other New Brunswick companies looking to both reach new export markets?
Help is out there, so put the effort in to find the right partners. We did, and the help we’ve received from DAAF, ONB, ACOA, PETL, AGCanada, and the Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) has been essential to our growth and success. We have had excellent support from all of those organizations across the board.
We’ve been able to attend well-organized trade missions through the TCS and ONB. In 2019, we took part in the mission to China with ONB for example. These missions give you access to incredible market intelligence and help connect you with industry experts and a wealth of potential partners and clients. While COVID-19 has changed things, virtual trade shows, conferences, seminars can still be attended. I would encourage other New Brunswick businesses to leverage these resources.
What about recruiting international students and overseas talent in general?
Create jobs and be sure to showcase what a beautiful place New Brunswick is to live and work. It’s a fantastic place to live and our international hires recognize that. International students often want to stay here after school, let’s give them reasons to.
We’re lucky, many of our international hires found us, not vice versa. That said, I work closely with the universities and colleges as well as with groups like the Multicultural Association of Fredericton, ONB, and PETL. Create those relationships for when you need to reach out about finding specifically skilled talent.
Our recruiting process is based on culture. We recognize how essential every single hire is to supporting and strengthening our company culture. I ask “are they not only motivated and innovative but can they engage emotionally? Do they care?” That’s important to us. Give people reason to stay here, give them a welcoming environment, and ensure they can grow a real career here. That’s the key to not only a company’s growth but the province’s growth.