Where’s the beef? Just ask Doug Price.
When Doug Price was just seven years old his grandfather, Frank, gave him a pair of his old spurs. He fondly remembers spending hours together with his mom, Flo, breaking that first horse. Doug knew from then on that he wanted to work with horses, cattle and dogs. And not necessarily in that order. “I was lucky, I always knew what I wanted to do, and it wasn’t school. I spent a lot of time looking out the classroom window wondering, what am I doing here?”
In 1952, Doug’s parents, Stan and Flo, purchased some land north of Acme and began their cattle and grain operation. The couple had seven children: Dave, Art, Al, Doug, Ray, Glenn and daughter Joyce. “We were all raised the same way,” says Doug. “My mom used to say, if you are willing to work hard and sacrifice, you can accomplish anything; she was a real driving force.” Flo lived by her motto, and over the course of her life, she helped to grow their cattle and grain operations and, together with Stan, founded Sunterra Farms. Flo was an influencer long before the term was trending, being named Acme’s Volunteer Of The Year, receiving Global Television’s Woman of Vision Award and being named one of Country Guide’s 12 Most Influential Farmers in Canada. Dad, Stan, was also a force to be reckoned with, helping to change the face of agriculture in Canada by chairing several industry groups and influencing policy changes including eliminating the Crowsnest Freight Rate (“crow rate”).
It’s no surprise that their children have all grown up to be successful farmers, and influencers themselves. Doug has spent the last 40 years feeding his love for cattle, literally. “I bought my first cow at 14 and I knew I wanted to expand,” he laughs. Doug was not one to sit still for too long and in his own words, he liked to have fun, probably a bit too much. “I wasn’t ready to settle down, so I decided to go to Olds College because it looked like there were lots of good parties,” he laughs. He met his wife Helga through mutual friends. She lived at a nearby farm and he was smitten, not only with her personality but with her work ethic. “She was a hard worker, could drive tractor and was really good at building fence,” he teases.
Doug and Helga made for a great team, working hard and driving forward. “I’ve always been a builder. I like to grow and create things and to look for ways to diversify and build for future generations,” he says. And build, he did.
The Price family owns three feedlots, including Korova Feedlots in Acme and the most recent addition, Rimrock Feeders (formally Western Feedlots) in High River. They also have three additional ranches in Alberta and an organic farming operation in Saskatchewan. The feedlots have a capacity of 85,000 head and their ranches run about 5,000 head. Doug’s brothers continue to own and operate Sunterra, which Doug also has a share in. But don’t let the size of this multi-generational family run operation fool you, Doug and Helga are humble and most of all, grateful.
“My dad used to always say, grow the operation around the hub, the original farm, and that’s what we’ve done. We encouraged our children: Joel, Kim, Robin Kendra, and Tonay to follow their passions, and if they wanted to be involved in farming, we would help support that as well.”
Today, the children are all involved in the family operation to different degrees. Daughter, Tonay, and husband, Evan Hegedys, own Hegedys Ranching and manage Rimrock Feeders, the name pays homage to the original ranch owned by their grandfather, Rimrock Hereford Ranch. Daughter, Kendra, is the Controller for the feedlots and she and her husband, Bryan, also own a piece of the business. Daughter, Kim, is a nurse educator in Calgary and her husband, Dan, is a Vice-Principal. They teamed up with daughter, Robin, also a nurse educator and her husband, Jerome, to open and manage 5 Vines Wine, a craft beer and wine operation. Oldest son, Joel, co-owns a successful construction company.
“We are very proud of all the kids, and of our grand-kids. We never put pressure on them to farm or ranch, but we did build this to create opportunity. You always dream of your kids working alongside you and we have been very blessed that the dream has become reality, I guess we did something right.”
Not only have the couple created opportunities for their children, but the loyalty of their employees speaks of how they too, are treated. “You’re only as good as the people you have around you,” says Doug. “As a family-owned company, we value many things, like our loyal customers, quality products, and the communities in which we operate. But we cannot stress enough that our success is totally due to the people around us and who work with us, our team members. We try to operate with honesty, integrity and pride, and our priority is to be good to those who give their all to us, each and everyday. We believe in treating our people with kindness and respect and growing from within.” And that’s what they’ve done. In fact, three of the ranch managers started at just 17 years old and have been with the Price’s for over 20 years.
Doug’s philosophy of growing doesn’t start and stop with business. Giving back to the community was something instilled at a very early age. This former Chair of the Alberta Cattle Feeders is very active in the community, contributing to local organized sports, schools and clubs. “We need to encourage and support future generations, to ensure that young people who want to get involved with agriculture have the opportunity and the means to do so.”
Community investment is also just one of the reasons why Doug has remained a loyal UFA member. “I have shopped at the Trochu and Hanna UFA stores for many years and they always have what I need, but more importantly, I respect how the co-operative gives back to rural communities. Just like a family-run operation, we need to work together to ensure success. It’s a collective effort, whether it be a business or a community.”
Over the years, this modest family has built one of the largest cattle operations in western Canada. From award-winning feedlots to organic farming and everything in between, they continue to be innovators in the agricultural space. They lead by their actions, demonstrating a commitment to building up rural communities and growing future leaders. Today, Doug isn’t looking out a school room window wondering what he’s doing there. Instead, he looks out his front room window and knows he’s exactly where he’s meant to be.