It all began on June 1, 1954, when Marian and Mary Heleniak purchased Norwich Packers (Norpac). Having immigrated to Canada from Poland after World War II, Marian and Mary Heleniak, founders of Norpac, seized the opportunity to provide for themselves and their four sons, Richard, John, Stan and Ron, by operating a successful family-run meat packing business.
For the first 20 years, Marian operated Norpac as a family business, servicing local farmers in a butcher-style operation, processing cattle and hogs. After 20 successful years, Richard took over the management and operations of the family business in 1974. About the same time, John and Stan took an active role in the production and procurement side of the business. In 1981, Ron joined Richard in the management department.
With the operation of the family business in the hands of the brothers, Norpac saw extensive growth throughout the 1980s and 90s, as the company was transformed into a full-service processing plant offering wholesale and retail services.
In the mid 1990s the company sought a more reliable and consistent source of beef. Richard and Ron decided the only way to ensure consistency was to create a unique, customized feeding process. The program consisted of feeding Norpac cattle a newly invented whole corn
and pellet ration, which contained no animal by-products. Once the program was implemented, consistency and product quality dramatically increased. The program became so popular that other local farmers and feedlots that supplied Norpac adopted the program. Norpac still makes the program available today for farmers who wish to sell their cattle to the plant.
20% of all the beef fed under the Norpac program are raised by the Heleniak family.
The 1990s and early 2000s saw significant expansion at Norpac with new product lines of beef and pork. The new products included:
- AAA portioned steaks
- An assortment of beef patties
- Beef and pork breakfast sausages
- Sweet pickled brisket and pork backs
- All beef franks
- Beef jerky
After completing his studies at the University of Guelph and Oklahoma State University, Richard's son Matt joined the Norpac management team as head of the cattle procurement department.