HOW THE COMPANY STARTED
In the late 1980’s, Don Laverty retired from the Soil and Feed Test Lab located at the University of Alberta, in Edmonton. He was soon asked by some Alberta Agriculture staff to see if he could invent a better cutting tip for the forage samplers Alberta Agriculture was loaning to farmers as a way of encouraging more feed testing. The result was a cutting tip with serrated flutes.
It worked well (actually, great!) and soon complete samplers were being requested. Thus Star Quality Samplers Inc. was born in 1989. The cutting tip that started it all soon became known as the STAR CUTTING TIP.
Over the years, requests for seed and soil sampling tools were also received. There are now over 13 different tools of which many come in several sizes!
Martha handled the office work and Don continued to build tools in their basement and at Grayco Machine Ltd in Leduc until they were in their early 80’s.
THE COMPANY TODAY
On January 1 of 2015, Greg and Velma Wray purchased the business and moved it to their farm near Irricana, Alberta. The business was incorporated in May of 2015. Grayco Machine Ltd. continues to manufacture most of the components with assembly and shipping taking place at the farm.
International sales continue to increase, especially since the invention of the UNIVERSAL and CLEAR PVC CANISTER models. These were designed to take samples from silage piles/pits/bunkers/bags and high moisture bales.
In 2021 an additional hardening process was applied to the Star cutting tips to make them last longer. Star Quality Samplers Inc. is working on a silage penetrometer to aid in packing silage piles.
By developing tools that enable efficient sampling of forages, SQSi helps the feed industry be more efficient and helps farmers reduce feed wastage which helps to reduce greenhouse gases. At the present time our international shipments are by air because we have not found a practical alternative. If our business grows enough to allow us to set up a distribution center in Europe, we may be able to change this.
ABOUT GREG AND VELMA WRAY
In 1910 Greg’s grandfather bought “homestead” land west of Irricana, Alberta. It had an irrigation canal running across it but his hopes of having a secure water supply were dashed when alkali quickly surfaced. Successive Wray generations have been dryland farming ever since. After graduating from the University of Alberta with a degree in Agriculture, Greg married Velma and worked for the Public Lands Division of the Alberta Government for 14 years. During this time, Greg primarily worked with farmers and ranchers managing grazing leases on Public Land in the Peace River area and later in central Alberta.
When Greg’s uncle Hubert developed health issues, the opportunity came for Greg and Velma to move back to Irricana in 1989 and farm with Greg’s dad and brother. In the mid 1990’s, the farm was seeded to forage and the cow/calf operation was expanded. Greg’s brother, Doug, has been actively implementing regenerative agricultural practices and has taken a keen interest in the Agricultural Forage Industry Network and the Canadian Forage Grassland Association. Today, Greg and Velma’s son Tim and his wife Joanne have taken over day-to-day management of the land and cattle herd allowing Greg to focus on running Star Quality Samplers Inc.
Greg’s interest is in developing tools that collect an accurate sample from all types of stored forages. Another goal of Greg’s was to make it possible for a 45Kg person using a drill-driven sampler to take enough cores to get a representative sample from hay or silage using Star Quality Samplers Inc. tools. With the advances in cordless drill technology and the development of the UNIVERSAL and CLEAR PVC CANISTER forage samplers, this is now possible.