One realizes the importance of taking a long range view of things if one wants to achieve any chance of crystallizing goals. Whether it is in sports, academia, art or business, rare is the overnight success. That’s one thing. Another is the realization that you can’t do it yourself. You may think you can but then you should not forget about coaches and trainers, teachers and professors, business partners such as suppliers, bankers, employees and customers. Most of us, if not all of us, at FirstMate Pet Foods have adapted to think that way. Adaptation is key.
Although FirstMate Pet Foods has been around for close to 30 years, our start was in the aquaculture industry. Taplow Ventures Ltd., our company, was the supplier of very high quality aquaculture feed providing food for the salmon farms in the Pacific Northwest. In the early days, the guard dogs on the farms were guarding the stock enjoying the occasional mouthful of Taplow food. The food was expensive and the dogs were putting on weight. Their coats became sleek and shiny. The farmers asked us to make a specific food for dogs, using the same high quality ingredients. We did and that’s how FirstMate was born. Today we still make fish feed and we still use the high quality ingredients in making a product to feed our FirstMate customers. We adapted.
Taking a long term view of things one undoubtedly comes across forks in the road. Like many startups, we had our feed made by other manufacturers. Following a few bumps in that road, we decided to work and invest towards building our own facilities. We would then have control. We could control quality, ingredients, time and skillful production. By investing in “hardware” we may have lost some sales opportunities, but the long term view gave us comfort that we would reach our objectives. Today FirstMate pet food far exceeds our fish feed division in volume but is equal in excellence. All of our food is made within our own kibble factory and our human grade cannery.
During my university years I lucked out by entering the commercial fishing industry. As a deckhand spending many years fishing for halibut in the Gulf of Alaska and salmon in the fjords of British Columbia, I enjoyed the best of times. After schooling, I remained in the industry and bought boats. The F.V. Taplow was one of them. I kept the name for our company, a long term view. At sea one learns to adapt like every creature out there. You adapt to the weather, to the ocean, to the crew. When the weather comes up and the fish disappear you stay out there. Tenacity quickly becomes the order of the day. That quality is within our code at FirstMate Pet Foods: tenacity to aspire to be the best, to have the safest equipment, the highest quality ingredients and the strongest management.
Our staff at FirstMate has experience, education and skill. We have people with PhD and Veterinary Doctorate educations that keep those laurels in their back pocket but demonstrate great vision for the operation of our company. We have senior managers who are young men and women who have developed 15 to 25 years of experience, passing that on to others. We have operational and sales staff that maintain course and speed but are familiar with facing crises and producing solutions. The combination of great “hardware” along with great “software” present at FirstMate Pet Foods is a formula for continuing success.
Finally, at FirstMate we live and breathe with Three principles. The First is to look after our customers. Without their loyalty and support we are nothing. We have a mission to provide the best food possible for our companion animals. It has been a long road but one we maintained over the years and will maintain going forward. The Second is to look after our suppliers. Without them we are also nothing. We have banks that work with us, we have wonderful, trusted long term suppliers that provide excellent products at fair market prices and we have the everyday suppliers of minutiae that oil the wheels of business. We have independent accountants that ensure the safety of our balance sheets and ensure strong financial health. Thirdly we have our employees. Today we have over 80 families that work with us. Without them we would truly be nothing. The men and women who work in our factories and offices and their spouses who do not, are all part of the FirstMate family and have been for many years. Period.
Mike Florian, President