By Chris Thomas, Tillsonburg News
As a staple part of our diet, chicken is a good bet to open a business when moving to Canada. Poultry Specialties in Tillsonburg is a family business going back to Holland.
Aad VanLeeuwen said his oldest sister had been an exchange student in the area and his family visited her several times. Their experience must have been positive because the entire family emigrated here in 1983 and they opened Poultry Specialties the following year.
Originally, the VanLeeuwens opened their chicken processing business on Lisgar Ave., but two moves later for expansion ended at their present location at 39 Cedar Street.
“The start was hard, but it laid the ground work,” Aad said.
Poultry Specialties sources their product all over Ontario which allows them to find suppliers with the best prices. Over the years they developed loyal customers from Windsor to Niagara Falls without the benefit of sales staff or advertising. They also do their own pickup and delivery and only 10 to 15% is retail sales.
“Our growth came because of our reputation,” Aad said.
Their best sellers are boneless, skinless chicken breasts and half chickens for barbecuing, but a big boost to their business was the chicken wing craze which started during the 1980s.
“I remember when we threw them away, but then some guy in Buffalo deep fried them,” Aad said.
“Today, chicken wings are one of the top selling restaurant foods. I’m a wing man myself,” Aad confessed.
He said his family has chicken at least twice a week, but added I like steak too, Chicken is currently expected to spike in popularity because of the rising prices of beef caused by shortages. However, Aad is taking potential growth in stride.
“Everyone takes their turn at the trough,” he said.
As a provincial processing facility, Poultry Specialties are regularly inspected by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food. They are also subjected to a third party audit annually. Aad added that all their dozen or more employees are fully trained.