Lucknow family business among Canada’s fastest risers (Ontario Farmer Article)October 11, 2018 10:06 am
Protekta Inc. is one of only six companies from the ag sector on the Top 500 Growth list
BY LILIAN SCHAER
Lucknow – A local company has been included in this year’s Growth 500 list of Canada’s fastest growing companies.
Protekta Inc. placed 257th on the list of 500, one of only six companies from the agriculture sector in the 2018 rankings, recording 259 percent growth in the last five years.
The company is in the specialty feed ingredients and environmental additives business, selling primarily Danish products to the livestock production market in Canada and the United States.
Morten Jakobsen started the business 15 years ago when he and his family immigrated to Canada from Denmark. “It does make you a little bit proud because sometimes you don’t look at your numbers that way,” said Morten. “We didn’t start at zero five years ago, so a 259 percent growth in the past five years is pretty good.”
He and son Lasse, Protekta’s Sales and Marketing Manager, attribute at least part of the reason for their rapid growth in recent years to changing livestock market demands in North America. Danish farmers have been faced with reducing antibiotic use and responding to consumer concerns around animal welfare for the better part of two decades, leading to the development of new production tools.
Many of these are products Protekta now sells in North America, where antibiotic use regulations are also becoming stricter and consumer concerns around welfare are driving change throughout the supply chain. “The demand (in North America) has grown and we’ve been there to help meet that need,” said Lasse, adding that interest from the industry had previously been fairly low as there was no requirement to alter existing production practices. “Now, here it’s in the consumer demand, in Europe, it just happened quicker than here.”
“When farmers in Denmark had to learn how to produce livestock without traditional tools at hand, they had to go back to basics and find out new ideas about how to produce pork, milk, chicken, and eggs and still be one of the top producing countries in the world,” Morten added.
Protekta’s product range for pigs, dairy and poultry is primarily based on prevention, according to the Jakobsens. Among their products is X-Zelit, a calcium supplement for dairy cows given at calving time to reduce milk fever risk. RespoSan is an herbal extract feed additive that helps calves breathe more easily. PeckStone is occupation material for poultry that is placed with flocks to help prevent feather pecking and keep birds calm. And SeoFoss is a manure additive that binds nitrogen and lowers in barn ammonia levels.
Protekta had been invited to apply for the ranking in 2017 already, but it wasn’t until this year that they took the plunge and sent in their application. They were contacted earlier this year with the news that they had made the list but didn’t learn of their specific ranking until mid-August.
Morten is pleased to see his team’s hard work pay off, but also credits Protekta’s customers with supporting the business. “We have good relationships with our customers; they’re the starters, the ones in the forefront trying new things,” he said. And although they know that other companies will eventually compete with Protekta much more directly than they do now, the Jakobsens are optimistic their growth trajectory will continue. “The demand is there for these products and I see us five to 10 years down the road with a very recognizable name,” Lasse said. “We believe the products that we are bringing in are the right way to raise animals and there is still a lot of room for these products to grow.
This marks the 30th year of the ranking, carried out by Canadian Business/Rogers Media. Their research teams rank applicant firms based on five-year revenue growth from 2012 to 2017, or fiscal 2013 to 2018. From the initial applicant list, eligible companies were shortlisted, and their financial statements verified. A minimum revenue requirement of $2 million in the most recent fiscal year applied to all companies.