(West Elgin, ON) Customer service has always been the first priority at Dixon’s Feed Service. “It’s in our name,” remarks Debbie Hope, current owner and field salesperson with the company for 18 years. During that time, Debbie gained invaluable knowledge and experience on how to serve a customer. When it came time for owner Dave Dixon to retire, Debbie’s experience and passion for the company made her the natural candidate for succession. “I couldn’t imagine running the business without Dave but I also didn’t want to see someone else come in and change the store. I wanted to make sure our customers were going to receive the same quality service that they’ve come to rely on.” With that in mind, Debbie set out to find financing.
As a single female with only a truck to her name, it came as no surprise to Debbie that she faced obstacles trying to secure funds. After being rejected by many creditors, Debbie was referred to the Elgin Community Futures office. Not only did Mark and Jeff from Elgin Community Futures help Debbie create a business plan for Dixon’s Feed Service, but she also received funding and advice. Debbie remembers, “They walked me through the process, showed me research so that I could write a solid business plan and helped me secure financing so I could take over the store. They never made me feel dumb about asking a question and were always willing to help out.”
With the support of Elgin Community Futures behind her, Debbie began to transform Dixon’s Feed Service into a rejuvenated business. Debbie launched a website, created promotional flyers, and even learned social media marketing. Thanks to Debbie’s initiatives, Dixon’s Feed Service is also a meeting place where farmers can get information and quality feed. “Education is the key to success and I figured if we can be a community hub for education, our farmers and their animals are going to benefit.” She holds free information sessions and speaking events with vets and nutritionists for local farmers where they can learn about how to keep their animals healthy.
Since Debbie took over the business in 2016, Dixon’s Feed Service has continued to experience growing success. Her advice to entrepreneurs looking to grow their business: “Serve your customers. Recognize what they need and help them get it. I dedicate a lot of time researching points of interest and industry trends on my customers’ behalf. I want to help them. It is as simple as that.” Elgin Community Futures helped Debbie stand on her own two feet so that Dixon’s Feed Service can continue to serve their county.