Richard Halenda was born in Toronto to a Ukrainian father and an English mother. His father, Michael, used to be a shoemaker in Ukraine and was planning to do the same in Canada. However, once in Canada, he was very disappointed to find that Canadians do not have their shoes repaired and just dump them. Michael did not have much time to decide what to do and went to work in the food industry.
Together with three partners, he started making sausages. After two decades (1955-1975) of hard work, he sold his interest in the business, and started selling meat products at the Sunday street market in Oshawa. In a few months, his stall became very popular with customers as his products were high-quality and also much cheaper than what local retailers were selling at the time. In a year and a half, he opened his first butcher shop. The second one was opened five years later.
Although Richard knew a lot about his father’s business and was glad about the father’s success, that industry did not appeal to him at first. Initially, he worked in the marketing department of a toy-making company. With time, Richard changed his attitude to the meat business and began to devote all his time to it. Since 1983, the family’s company, M&D Meats, manufactured a wide range of meat products, including fresh chicken, pork and beef. Between 1986 and 1988, the company opened several new stores in Pickering and Whitby.
In 2006, the company created a new division called The Meat Depot engaged in large bulk purchases of meat from the biggest manufacturers for resale to smaller companies which were unable to work directly with the giants. Halenda’s produce was very popular. The company had a 9000 sq.ft refrigeration facility, owned five trucks and hired several trucks which allowed it to make quick and uninterrupted supplies of meat throughout Ontario.
“Some people ask: “Why open five stores?” The answer is simple: more people were coming into our shops and becoming regular customers, because they liked our products. To meet the increased demand for our products, we had to expand,” says Richard.
Richard Halenda has the following tips for novice businesspeople, “You must love and believe in what you do and do not lose any, even seemingly insignificant, opportunities to get closer to your goal. And there are always opportunities present, believe me, you just have to carefully look around and try not to miss them. It is paramount to use the opportunities once you notice them. Sometimes I hear the we were lucky to have such a successful business. Maybe it’s luck, but really, I think, we, Halendas, have just successfully taken advantage of the opportunities that life tossed at us. Be persistent in pursuing your goals, do not give up and you will succeed, for overcoming the difficulties will make you stronger, will strengthen your spirit and thirst for victory.”
Richard’s wife Olya Halenda (Kisil) was born in a Ukrainian family in Oshawa. She went to the Ukrainian school and from a young age was an active participant in the Ukrainian community. She has been an avid dancer since a very early age. For 25 years, she was a choreographer for the Ukrainian Dance Team at St. George Church (Lviv Hall). Being beautiful and graceful, Olga won the title “Miss Lviv” during Fiesta week in 1982.
In 1983, she was offered a job at the first M&D Meats shop, where there was an urgent need for Ukrainian-speaking workers because many of the buyers were Ukrainian. Olga has remained with the company ever since – where she met Richard and the pair fell in love. They now live in Whitby with their children Ricky and Stefka.
Today “Halenda’s” has six stores and two factories, and employs over 100 people. The company opened a new store in Mississauga in 2013. By the end of 2015, they plan to double the size and capacity of the meat-processing factory.
In January 2015, Mike (Mykhaylo) Halenda passed away at 90 years of age.
“My father was a wonderful man who was loved by his family and by everyone who knew him. One could rely on his kind word and support in everything. Father lived his life to the fullest, he had managed to do a lot and become a successful man. In my opinion, he succeeded because he humanly treated the others and was well versed in the manufacture of meat products,” says Richard.
• Richard is the head of the Ontario Independent Meat Processors Associations.
• Placed first in a contest among Ukrainian Canadian producers of meat products held in Ottawa in 2006.
• Placed second in “Ontario finest meat competition” in 2009, winning in nine categories. This is the second largest such event in North America.
• Won the award of excellence in “Ontario finest meat competition” in 2011 and 2013.
• Sells products to “Sobeys” and wholesale operators throughout Ontario.
РАЗОМ Media Group