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Name

Brenda vanDuinkerken

Job title

President

Location

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Duinkerken Foods Inc. manufactures exceptional gluten-free food products that offer the same delicious taste, texture, and consistency as wheat based products.

From the Seed of Innovation to Wal-Mart the Largest Retailer in the World!

When company president Brenda vanDuinkerken was diagnosed with celiac disease in 1994, she had no idea what celiac disease was. When her doctor told her she would be on a life time gluten free diet she was not concerned, she was relieved to finally have an answer to her poor health. Brenda never imagined she would be a trailblazer in gluten-free food innovation and development. After years of struggling to stay on the diet and feeling deprived of good tasting food, she decided to take on the huge challenge - to make gluten free food taste delicious. Duinkerken Foods was launched in 2003.

Building the Duinkerken Brand through WEConnect International

Brenda vanDuinkerken invested a substantial amount of personal savings to make the gluten free diet more enjoyable for her and others. When the product development process was completed, there was limited cash to build the brand or to do any type of marketing campaign. Brenda looked to WEConnect International to provide a marketing edge.

In 2009, Duinkerken Foods became one of the first women owned businesses in Canada to become certified through WEConnect. A few months after certification Brenda was invited to Washington, DC by WEConnect International CEO Elizabeth Vazquez to attend the first International Women's Business Summit held at the World Bank. While in Washington she also had an opportunity to attend a supplier diversity trade show at the Canadian Embassy.

At this trade show, Brenda met two amazing women from Walmart – Jackie Spedding and Tonya Smith. They sampled her gluten-free products and loved them, beginning a business relationship that would reap rewards.

Tips and Strategies: Participation, Patience, Persistence, and Preparation.

  1. Attend programs and events to keep your relationships warm. By participating in the conferences and events it reinforces to others that you believe in what you are doing and that you are committed to building relationships through the organizations. Brenda attended WEConnect and WBENC meetings/conferences and kept building relationships in Canada and USA. By seeing corporate representatives like Jackie and Tonia time-and-time-again, she became familiar to these important contacts. At the 2011 Women's Business Enterprise National Council conference in Las Vegas, Brenda re-connected with Jackie Spedding who introduced her to another WEConnect corporate representative, Full Circle Exchange, an aggregator and distributor to Walmart.
  2. Be patient and persistent. Brenda knew her products were top quality and had great taste. She needed to keep her brand in front of potential buyers, build relationships, and follow up with new contacts when they were presented.
  3. Be prepared for the opportunity to present itself. After meeting John Priddy of Full Circle Exchange (FCE) in June, Brenda immediately sent samples to FCE. They liked what she had to offer and just three months later, they connected her with an opportunity to present to with one of their clients, walmart.com.

What's your WEConnection?

Although the company had been selling products to Walmart Super Stores in Canada, Duinkerken wanted to expand the relationship. Brenda met with walmart.com buyers on September 6, 2011 in Brisbane, CA. They listed her products immediately and also committed to the complete product line for all Walmart stores in Canada. This meeting opened the door to a wonderful opportunity. Today Duinkerken products are sold in all Walmart stores throughout Canada and will soon be available on walmart.com in the USA.

Impacts

As a result of this WEConnection, Duinkerken Foods anticipates increased revenues of 25%. They will hire for 12 new positions - 6 fulltime and 6 part-time. The business is expecting an overall growth of 12%

The most notable immediate impact is the ability to secure financing. Prior to becoming WEConnect certified, the company's biggest challenge and major barrier to growing the business was financing. Since Duinkerken products became listed on walmart.com those barriers have vanished.

Having Walmart - the largest retailer in the world - carry our products is a magnificent way to build the Duinkerken brand.

Testimonial

"WEConnect International provides women entrepreneurs with the marketing edge they require to accelerate business growth. My goal is to grow the business internationally; I recognize the quality and innovation that I created. I only offer products that I enjoy... I offer taste! Duinkerken will be a leader in the gluten-free market and through WEConnect we have the contacts to make it possible. My success definitely would not have happened without WEConnect and I am very grateful."

-Brenda van Duinkerken, Duinkerken Foods

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