Life Lessons: Rahim Talib

Focus on your core business strengths

Rahim Talib: Owner and CEO of Meadowfresh Dairy Corp., which has achieved year-over-year growth of between 20% and 25% for the past several years

In 2007, a few years after taking over Meadowfresh Dairy Corp., owner and CEO Rahim Talib helped the company embark on a new business direction: a yogurt drink, lassi, destined for retail shelves.

The move, he said, was new for a company that had been producing and distributing dairy products for the food services and manufacturing sectors. And Talib was determined to do it right.

"We did a lot of research and a lot of homework," he said. "We had focus groups, we made it look fabulous, we made sure we had good capacity to manufacture it. We really didn't cut any corners."

Yet the product failed to take off – not because of its quality or taste, but because the company lacked federal certification as a dairy.

Talib said that while Meadowfresh was provincially certified and planned to sell only in B.C., he discovered that major retailers operating in the province wouldn't buy products without that federal certification.

At the time, that required infrastructure investments beyond the company's financial reach. Thus despite the product's quick popularity with independent retailers, it didn't achieve the needed market traction. Talib still remembers realizing he'd have to pull the plug less than a year after product launch.

"I think we jumped in a little too soon," he said, noting that the company has since become federally certified.

He added that the experience taught him to focus on the company's core strengths – and to allocate resources to those areas.

"Understand what you do well and really deliver on that. Allocate resources to support the things you do extremely well," he said.

"And wait until you are fully ready and have the infrastructural strength before you start investing in some of those long shots and the higher-hanging fruit."

Talib said by following those precepts, Meadowfresh hasn't looked back.

"Our growth has been very strong, very consistent, and we've been blessed."

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