Kristin Westersund and Peavey Mart Industries: Creating retail hygge in rural Alberta and beyond.

Kristin Westersund is a game changer, with a passion for animals, a razor sharp ability to both foresee and anticipate future agricultural trends and a desire to create hygge within Peavey Mart stores where customers feel safe, comfortable and heard. “We want to engage with our communities and create sustainable environments where Peavey Marts can exist for the next 100 years." Read about Kristin's role within multiple Peavey Mart and U of A partnerships and initiatives, her 'on the ground' contributions to the PIP organization, her rise up the management ladder within Peavey Mart and her thoughts about future trends in Canadian agriculture.

“Hygge: a nordic word for a mood of coziness and comfortable conviviality with feelings of wellness and contentment.” 

Kristin Westersund wants customers to experience hygge every time they enter a Peavey Mart store. Currently Category Manager for Farm and Ranch with Peavey Mart Industries, Westersund has been recently promoted to Feed and Commodities, the largest and busiest sector in the company.

She has a Certificate in Network and Business Administration from CDI College and is currently enrolled in Grand Prairie Regional College for Supply Chain Management Certificate. 

 Kristin grew up on a working cattle ranch and grain farm southwest of Red Deer. After a stint in Vancouver, she headed to Amsterdam where she worked in Risk Management and IT. She had experience in grocery retail as a teen and, after Europe, worked for Sobey’s/Safeway, finding the retail world much more enjoyable than IT. When the opportunity to join Peavey Mart came up, she jumped at the chance. 

“It’s like going full circle – I started in the Red Deer area, went off into the world and came right back to agriculture and Red Deer.”

Peavey Mart is a great fit for a person whose first love is animals. 

“When I was a little kid I would go into the back yard before school, pick grass and try and bribe the cows to come to the fence and eat grass out of my hand”, remembered Westersund. “Now I get to help customers live the life that I lived growing up.”

Peavey Mart has expanded in leaps and bounds and Kristin has grown with the now half billion-dollar company that is employee owned. She has contributed to this growth with her ability to both foresee and anticipate future agricultural trends and her desire to create hygge within the stores where customers feel safe, comfortable and heard. 

“Management is all about people – and my role, which aligns with my values perfectly, is not to make x number of dollars, it’s to make everybody love us,” explained Westersund. “We want to engage with our communities and create sustainable environments where Peavey Marts can exist for the next 100 years.”

Westersund has a huge role in the partnership between Peavey Mart and the U of A Heritage Chicken Program (HCP), working hand in hand organizing heritage chick sales to backyard and small flock farmers in Alberta. Peavey Mart stores accept and distribute chicks to pre-order customers and host Chick Days – a Saturday family-oriented event where chicks are sold to the public with all proceeds going back to the HCP as well as an additional donation. 

Kristin is excited about the partnership between Peavey Mart and the U of A, especially as new initiatives continue to be explored. 

“We are going to have students in our stores being chick welfare experts,” she said. “Now we have a chick welfare representative from the U of A (Dr. Leanna Grenwich, DVM) and I see us partnering more going forward. We have training guides for our store staff on chicks and chick days and they are partnering with DR. Frank Robinson to develop personalized training videos and documents for our Peavey Mart staff. Through this our staff are able to advocate for animal welfare and help the customers shop better – make better decisions – and that in turn increases our sales.”

“The knowledge that the university provides to our staff and to our customers helps us increase our customer base and loyalties and helps us to keep growing.” 

The HCP and Peavey Mart also partner to present Small Flock Workshops over the years, which have evolved into the highly regarded virtual Small Flock Poultry Short Course  featuring experts such as Dr. Frank Robinson, Teryn Girard, DVM and Kerry Nadeau, U of A Poultry Unit Manager. Peavey Mart and U of A students of Frank Robinson created a series of you-tube videos around the heritage breeds and early care and housing of chicks, and these are widely viewed and appreciated by first time chick buyers. 

“We share parallel values,” said Westersund. “It goes back to building sustainable communities with a love of agriculture”

Peavey Mart has plans to expand the chick program to Ontario next year. 

Kristin Westersund is also highly involved with the Poultry Innovation Partnership (PIP). She recently stepped into the Vice-Chair position on the Pip Board, chairs the Leveraging and Governance Committees and sits on the Heritage Chicken Steering Committee. She represents Peavey Mart as a PIP partner and brings a ‘feet on the ground’ perspective to the organization which is highly valued. 

Westersund feels that the PIP Tech Transfer and Communication team make research accessible, approachable and digestible to producers and this is critically important.

“PIP is communicating in producer language to producers.” 

With her ear to the ground and talent for predicting trends, Westersund imagines a move towards an increasing market for sheep and goat farming in Alberta and she is positioning Peavey Mart to be ready when it happens. After watching the backyard poultry market expand from 2 million to 5.5 million a year in retail sales for hard poultry goods, current immigration trends predict a lot more interest in sheep and goats. 

“Goat and sheep farmers have increased from 500,000 to a million in the last three years – nothing else is growing that fast,” said Westersund. “Diversity of what we eat will increase and we need to be ready to support those people in their agrarian dreams.”

With Westersund at the helm, farmers new and old and customers from all walks of life will find hygge and a warm welcome at their local Peavey Mart store. 

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