Garden Grove began operations from a small retail produce store in north Winnipeg in 1985. At that time co-owners Glen Behl and Michael Gorun purchased vegetables from Winnipeg wholesalers and re-sold them to the public. As innovators, the co-managers began to search for ways in which they could increase the scope and profitability of the business. Their search led to some trial shipments of selected produce purchased directly from California exporters. To cover a portion of the freight costs, and to achieve some buying power, they began in 1987 to supply a few local restaurants with a portion of the imported product. This soon led to the realization that their true interests lay more in the wholesaling than the retail business.
The following year, the co-owners formally entered
the import business when they formed Garden Grove Produce Imports Ltd. For
the first two years of operation, GGPIL operated from a 5,000 sq. ft. leased
facility at 246 Jarvis Ave. in north Winnipeg.
In 1990 the company moved to a 23,000 sq. ft. leased facility at 305 McKay Ave. in the East Kildonan district of Winnipeg. The larger space allowed GGPIL to install additional cool storage and to receive and ship product in semi-trailers. With the additional buying power that this gave the company, they were able to greatly expand the range of product they imported. It also allowed them to accommodate the staff of 20 people needed to operate the business at that time.
In 1990 GGPIL took another key step in purchasing their first semi-trailer and tractor. This provided the company with increased security and control over its commodity supplies. The side panels of the trailer also provided valuable advertising space to enhance the image of the company. Currently the company operates a fleet of 18 highway tractors, and 33 trailers, 12 heated. All highway tractors are now tracked by state of the art Global Positioning Satelite (GPS).
This company operates under the banner Jaguar Transport. With the acquisition of its own fleet of semi-trailers, GGPIL automatically became involved in the export business for Canadian products. Depending upon the commodity, the company acts either as a broker or a principal on behalf of Canadian exporters. Products currently being exported includes: vegetables, pork, beef, cereal grains, peat moss, canary seed, bottled water and spices. The vast majority of these shipments are destined for the southern U.S., Mexico, or other destinations within Canada.
Another important event occurred in 1991 when GGPIL entered into a supply arrangement with a group of Mexican farmers. Under the terms of the agreement, GGPIL leases farm land, provides seed to the farmers, and commits to selling the end product, primarily to U.S. customers. For their part, the farmers grow, harvest, and store the crop, as well as wash, package, and ship the final product as sales are made. Profits are split between GGPIL and the growers on an equitable basis.
During this time of rapid expansion, there has been a constant need to add new staff. GGPIL has been successful in attracting qualified people who are familiar with the produce business. A total of sixty-eight people are currently employed by the company. The most recent addition is a certified general accountant hired as office manager and comptroller of the company. This decision was made to allow Mr. Behl to focus more on the longer term growth and development of the business.
Over the seven complete years of operation, company sales increased dramatically. This rate of growth of almost 2,000% over the five year period resulted in GGDL being recognized in the June, 1992 issue of Profit magazine as the 12th fastest growing company in Canada, and far and away the fastest growing company in Manitoba. This ranking as well as a write-up on the company is included in appendix A of this presentation. In 1993/94 they were selected as the 16th fastest growing company in Canada, as well as placing in the top 50 managed companies in Manitoba, for two consecutive years. In 1999, they were ranked as the third fastest growing company in Manitoba, as per Manitoba Business Magazine; August edition.