Once a Family Business, always a Family Business – Ralph Moore and Sons Tradition Carries on 105 Years Later
Ralph Moore and Sons have been a family farm since 1916 when it produced dairy and vegetables. The location may have changed as well as the ownership but the same family values and feel remain today.
The farm was purchased in 2010 by Paul and Annette Wilson who relocated the operation just north of Otterville from Norwich.
The original farm turned to produce spray millet in 1939. “We are the only growers of spray millet in Canada that we know of, and we are very proud of that fact,” said office manager Shannon Van De Byl. “It is little millet seeds that are on what’s called a spray. If you were ever to look at a bird in a cage such as a budgie, odds are they will have a piece of spray millet. It’s both fun and nutritional for them.”
The operation employs six people and the core workers have been here for at least 20 years. “They are loyal, dedicated, and love what they do,” said Shannon who added that the family tradition of the farm is not lost on her. “We have big shoes to fill. I have teenage kids and if we have a large order, I will have them come in and help with packaging. We were in the Walmart pet section and my son picked up a bag of seed and said he might have done this one. We are a small company with 6 employees so with us to have a presence in Walmart is pretty cool.” Shannon is also the niece of owners Paul and Annette.
Ralph Moore and Son’s biggest contract with a chain store is Walmart and they have supplied the massive retail operation for years. “We have a wholesaler program for pet stores and our retail side supplies breeders and aviaries. The Toronto Zoo and the Niagara Falls Bird Kingdom are also customers of ours,” added Shannon. The company had a contract with a large supplier in the US but once COVID hit that deal disappeared. “We have done so well promoting our products within Canada that the loss of that contract hasn’t impacted us the way we thought it would at first.”
The quality of the products has been a focus for the Wilson’s since they purchased the operation, but they have also moved it into the 21st century. “Up until the last few years, the entire crop was hand harvested. Workers would cut the crop and hand tie it to dry. We have started to automate that process with a harvester to get the millet out of the field. Rather than hang them we now strategically place them in apple bins which is less labour intensive. We are still ensuring the quality is as high as possible,” said Shannon.
Along with spray millet, Ralph Moore and Sons sells several bird seed mixes along with bird feeders. “Some of the raw seeds we grow and others we purchase from local suppliers. We do all the mixing ourselves for the different seed mix recipes. A lot of our diehard customers know exactly what they want but many also come to buy seed to either attract a specific bird or detract animals like squirrels,” said Shannon.
You can find Ralph Moore and Sons at https://www.ralphmooreandsons.com.