Published on Feb. 24, 2020
Meet Alan Rickard
Following a recent announcement of a new Managing Director for the turkey business of Hendrix Genetics we are pleased to give you a short introduction to Alan Rickard.
What is your background?
I grew up in agriculture on an 8th generation family farm in Clarington, Ontario (Canada). It was a multi-species, multi-production unit, that included beef cattle, hog finishing , apple orchards, canning produce, and a seed business. The farm is still in operation and run by my father and cousin.
I took Agricultural Business at the University of Guelph and found myself working for Maple Leaf Foods right out of school. I spent much of my early career there, mostly in the commodity and supply chain areas of their business. Additionally, I had the opportunity to work and live in both the UK and Germany as part of their meat trading group. I spend the latter part of my Maple Leaf Foods career responsible for the commercial operations of Rothsay, which was their rendering business.
Prior to joining Hendrix Genetics, I was the CEO of a publicly traded biodiesel business called BIOX. In 2018, BIOX moved their operations in Canada to the USA. As I was not looking to move my family, I decided to take some time off and spend it at home in Guelph.
How did you find Hendrix Genetics?
My time off with my family was fantastic! We had our third child in June of 2018, and I completed my time with BIOX in August 2018. It was nice to spend some quality time at home with my growing family and I really didn’t look at options for work until after about five months at home.
Although there were a lot of opportunities, both in the ag space and the energy space, there was nothing that really captured my interest. Nothing that is, until I met with Dave Libertini. He told me all about Hendrix Genetics and Hybrid Turkeys and the role they play in the supply chain of the agri-food sector. My interest was sparked almost immediately, and I was drawn to not only the type of business but the culture and the people.
What drew you to the position?
It’s funny. A common question I have already encountered is “Why turkeys?” I feel that Hendrix Genetics pulls me back into more of a primary agriculture role. I’ve always been rooted in and tied to agriculture in some way, so this role brings me closer to this base passion.
Additionally, I am drawn to opportunities that are unique. When most people think of the food sector they often think of meat, processors or growers. It is not often that they consider those roles at the front-end of the chain and all the technology and expertise that go into this first input. The role of a primary breeder is a bit hidden yet has an impact on all links throughout the value chain. The role in the production chain, paired with the fact that turkey is a niche protein make working with turkeys so intriguing.
I feel this position represents a perfect combination of both these driving goals.
What do you see as the most important issue for the turkey industry?
Overall, I think the biggest challenge of the turkey industry has to do with the protein space in general. There are many proteins that are all competing for the attention of the final consumer. I am eager to understand what our role looks like in this broader category.
What knowledge or expertise do you bring that will contribute to your success at Hendrix Genetics?
I’d say a couple things: collaborative leadership style, business acumen and having an appreciation for analytics.
In terms of managing and running a business, especially one as complex and wide as the turkey business, an autocratic nature won’t work. I value collaboration and a team-based approach, as I have experienced great success with this leadership style in my past. We have a lot of good people, and a lot of institutional knowledge within Hendrix Genetics and this makes my job a lot easier.
Throughout my career I was exposed to a variety of business structures, leadership styles and cultures which refined my business acumen. I was fortunate to spend a good chunk of my career working for a company with a strong leadership culture and well-defined processes for measuring the business. This may explain my keen appreciation for analytics.
I love analytics and investigating the numbers. I value their role in understanding problems. Being able to define and measure various areas of the business allows us to hold ourselves accountable for misses while also celebrating successes.
What do you do in your free time?
A lot of my free time right now is taken up with my family. As I mentioned I have three young kids, my son (7) and 2 daughters (5 and 19 months), so that keeps my hands full. My little guy is starting to get into organized sports and activities, which any parent of young kids can agree quickly fills your schedule. Additionally, we live in a community in Guelph with a lot of friends nearby, so we spend a lot of time with friends, family and neighbours.
I am also a sports guy. I follow the Toronto Maple Leafs for hockey, Green Bay Packers for NFL football, and I love the Toronto Raptors. I do follow a bit of European football as well.
In addition to watching sports I still try to play soccer, although my wife rolls her eyes whenever I go into the field. I’m holding on, but we’ll see how long that lasts. Finally, I love the outdoors, especially spending time with family outside in the summer when it’s nice weather.
I’m only a few weeks in and the nice thing is that the people and the culture are all pretty much as advertised and have reflected well on my initial meetings with Dave (Libertini) and Raf (Beeren). I’m excited to be a part of the Hendrix Genetics family, representing the Hybrid Turkeys brand, and look forward to meeting many more colleagues and partners from around the world.