Gem, Alberta (Rural Roots Canada) – A quick scan down the 2023 Avenue Calgary Top 40 Under 40 list, and you will see that this class has a distinctive agricultural flavour to it.

Amongst the list of recipients are Daniel, Lorin and Barry Doerksen, who operate Gemstone Cattle Company.  A family cattle operation in Gem, located in southern Alberta.

Courtesy: Gemstone Cattle Company

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Barry says it was nice to be recognized in this way and represent the agriculture industry on this urban stage.

“We don’t know if the top 40 has ever had rural agriculture representation before, so that was really neat for us to be a part of that,” Barry says.

Gemstone Cattle Company was formed in 2014 when they purchased a purebred Red Angus seedstock operation to complement their purebred Hereford business.

Daniel says their philosophy has always been not to push the cattle.

“Our bulls are raised without any grain as are the mothers and all the calves, they have to thrive on forage only and a low-input diet.”

When they started investigating the possibility of being a grass-fed company, they decided it was best to build off their strengths.

“We thought that we had the right genetics to make it successful.”

They would take the next step in building this grass-fed beef business in 2018 with a large focus on how the cattle are raised.

“The cattle don’t get any grain. They’re raised without added hormones and antibiotics, and so basically, if you want to raise cattle that way, you have to be developing a market for yourself,” Lorin says.

Gemstone Cattle
Courtesy: Gemstone Cattle Company

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He says they didn’t know a whole lot about marketing at the start. However, they did know that there was a growing number of people who wanted to get their nutrition from whole and nutrient-dense foods.

“We started pretty small marketing, mostly quarters and halves. We developed an online store and tried to get into the wholesale market, selling at wholesale prices to specialty food stores, especially grocery stores in Calgary and Edmonton, and that helped pick up the volume.”

Their online sales now span the province, stretching as far south as Lethbridge and as far north as Fort McMurray. In order to ensure cold chain delivery service right to the customer’s door, they utilize a few different delivery partners.

Gemstone’s business would grow exponentially about six months before the pandemic and would lead to it opening a meat shop and restaurant in the Calgary Farmers Market in 2022.

It doesn’t appear they are slowing down anytime soon, as they are actively looking for ways to reach new communities.

Entrepreneurial Spirit

To the aspiring entrepreneurs out there, the Doersksens offer this wisdom.

“Look for good partnerships right off the bat.”

One of the partnerships that they credit as helping their success is a family-owned butcher shop in Brooks, Alberta, which is able to process their cattle quickly and efficiently.  The brothers are also quick to point to the partnership they have with their delivery company, which also purchases some beef for sale in their own grocery store.

They say entrepreneurs need to keep their minds open as they try to find partners that can work together to make it the most efficient.

Quality is what success looks like for Doerksen’s, whether it is the beef they are selling or the customer service that delivers that product to their customers.

For more on all of the people named to the Avenue Calgary Top 40 Under 40 for 2023, click here.

Gemstone Cattle
Courtesy: Gemstone Cattle Company