Colleen Haussecker credits more than the products she sells for the success of her business, Splendor Garden, because she can see how her location in rural Saskatchewan also contributes.
Haussecker got the idea for the business a little more than a decade ago as she researched ways to eat healthier following a breast cancer diagnosis. During her treatment, she learned about adding more organic spices and herbs to her diet to add antioxidants and extra nutrition to meals without relying on salt, sugar, or fat for flavour.
She found there were very few options for her as a consumer. Once she discovered this niche in the market, she decided she would fill it by creating quality organic products for others. By September 2013, she was ready to launch the business having developed a spice line that included 48 products that were shipped out to about 70 initial stores. Today the Splendor Garden brand supplies its products to over 2000 stores across Canada.
After a few years of being in business, Haussecker identified more opportunities. Health Canada allows for oats that do not contain more than 20 parts per million of gluten from wheat, rye, barley, or their hybridized strains to be labelled gluten-free. A line of organic gluten-free oats that are grown in Saskatchewan was added to Splendor Garden’s offering. The business began to sell organic spices, herbs, and seasoning blends. More recently, Splendor Garden has been selling its organic gluten free oats and whole oat flour, organic fish n' fry coating mixes as well as plant-based soup mixes.
Around that same time, she recognized she could sell spices in larger packages as well as in the small retail packs she had developed. She began packaging them in volumes up to 1000 pounds, selling the large packages to various food manufacturers.
The company soon saw the opportunity to diversify. Haussecker and her team thought about the traditional foods that people enjoy eating to provide them ingredients that make those recipes healthier. One example is fried chicken. Splendor Garden has developed a coating mix that is plant-based. It is made with oat flour, pea flour, pea meal and spices and herbs for flavouring. The product is high in fiber and protein.
Saskatchewan’s competitive business environment helps Haussecker identify these new markets and opportunities. Splendor Garden’s success is key to ensuring community growth and allowing small centres to thrive.
Operating in the Town of Watson, which is about 160 km east of Saskatoon, is important to Haussecker to be close to family. The business is surrounded by other manufacturers within a 20-kilometre radius, which Haussecker says makes Splendor Garden more competitive. Because there are numerous manufacturers in the area, trucking companies are drawn to them, meaning those manufacturers can access cost-efficient freight rates.
Working with the other manufacturers in her area has also been beneficial to her business. For example, she needed to extend a stainless-steel hopper on one of her automated fillers. It was easy for her to visit another local manufacturer to have one built. The company typically manufacturers stainless steel filters for the oil industry but was able to fulfill her order within four days for what she describes as a very economical price.
Haussecker has also found buying property and paying taxes in Watson compared to the cost in cities a lot more economical. Given their growth and success in Saskatchewan, Splendor Garden has plans for expansion, and construction is nearly complete. The sounds of construction fill Haussecker’s office inside Splendor Garden’s 11,000-square-foot building on the main street of Watson. After purchasing the properties beside and behind that building, she is expanding with a new 9,600-square-foot warehouse.
Inside, she has 17 people working for the business. Haussecker points out that for every family that moves to the area for one employment opportunity, there is typically a spouse also seeking a job, so finding the necessary labour for her business has been possible. Some of the production staff work with two fully automated and two semi-automated packaging machines while others package products that require it by hand. There are four packaging lines going as other employees handle product development, shipping and receiving, logistics as well as marketing and sales.
Splendor Garden sources the spices from many different countries, such as Ceylon cinnamon and peppers from Sri Lanka and other spices from India, Egypt and Tunisia as well as the U.S. and imports them to Saskatchewan. She has spent years building her connections to be able to purchase and import the spices.
Splendor Garden conceives of products, develops them in house, then markets and ships them to stores. It also sells to individuals online through its website and Amazon. Not only are people from the province purchasing her products, they help her find new customers. However, much of Splendor Garden’s business is with distributors and manufacturers.
The company’s products can be found in grocery and health food stores across Canada. They are also exported, in part, due to the support of Saskatchewan’s international offices. The company currently exports to Australia, Vietnam and soon Taiwan.
These opportunities keep Haussecker and Splendor Garden moving ahead. She encourages others to recognize the opportunities and advantages that come with operating a business in rural Saskatchewan, which includes having local people champion and support its success.