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Bulk Barn CEO Jason Ofield turns to fellow NC alumni to capture surprise visits to stores across Ontario

Employees at Bulk Barn stores across the province were in for a treat this August as Jason Ofield, President and CEO and prominent NC alum (Business – Sales and Marketing, 2005) dropped in unannounced to get the scoop on his stores. Their interactions with Ofield were captured by grads from Niagara College’s Broadcasting – Radio, Television and Film (BRTF) program, a partnership born from the College’s Speaker Series in 2022. The small film crew followed Ofield from store to store across Belleville, Kingston, Toronto and the Niagara Region. The surprise visits were a chance for Ofield to thank employees for their commitment to the company, gather feedback and new ideas, and promote Bulk Barn’s corporate culture. “Jason was impressed with the NC team and really enjoyed having them accompany him on the store visits,” said Shannon Gutcher, Director of Marketing at Bulk Barn. “Their positive attitudes and willingness to get in there and capture different moments on the fly were great. It felt like a true partnership with a shared vision. They were professional, engaged, and enthusiastic.”

Jason Ofield in a Bulk Barn store.

The crew was led by Carter Varmeyer (BRTF 2019) and with support from BRTF Program Coordinator Dutch Vandenberg, Associate Director, Community Relations and Events, Carly Root, and NC Community Broadcasting Liaison Parween Taheri (BRTF ). Varmeyer runs his own video production company, Vacant Inn Productions, which he started in his first year at NC. The alumni duo worked in tandem – Taheri with a shoulder rig camera and Varmeyer on a gimbal – to get maximum coverage at each store Ofield visited. “Jason was truly amazing to work with,” said Varmeyer. “He had phenomenal energy that kept the whole crew energized and excited for each location. His attention to detail at each store and his ability to play towards the camera made our jobs much easier.” The footage will be used to tell the story of the company’s vision on their website and at the Bulk Barn State of the Union meeting on October 5 for corporate office employees, store managers, and regional operations team members. Students in the BRTF program have been tapped to support editing and the delivery of the livestream. “When it came time to determine the approach for our State of the Union, Niagara College came up as Jason was very impressed with the alumni event,” said Gutcher. “The professionalism of the team, the scale of the production of the event and just the positive interactions with everyone at the College made it an easy decision to reach out.” Gutcher says that the footage captured of leadership running great stores will be a highlight of their meeting.

The NC crew filmed interviews with Bulk Barn employees.

“We are excited to see how it all comes together – the mix of the sit-down interview, the store visits and the b-roll will ensure our message and meeting is very well rounded. Having the NC team capture this content will help bring the vision of “People, Purpose & Passion” to life in a compelling way for our store teams and our corporate office staff.” Ofield has been highly engaged with his alma mater, and the inspiration for the livestreamed company event – a first for the bulk foods giant – came from NC’s Fall 2022 Convocation and the alumni event in which Olfield spoke to grads about resilience and leadership. In October, the State of the Union meeting will give current BRTF students a unique experiential learning opportunity. “Collaborating with an accomplished NC alum like Jason, and two of my own former students, Carter and Parween, was an experience that really encapsulates what it means to bleed NC blue,” said Vandenberg. “Current students are looking forward to supporting the project through editing footage and crewing the livestream production for Bulk Barns’ State of the Union this fall.” Throughout the shoot, Varmeyer says Dutch always there “to lend a hand with gear whether it be to fix something, set lights, or take behind the scenes photos.”

NC’s Dutch Vandenberg supported the NC film crew. The footage will be edited by students in the BRTF program.

Vandenberg and Root (the latter who facilitated production and consulted on the livestream) were on the road periodically to check in with production team and ensure the content aligned with expectations. “Working with Dutch, Carly, and Parween has been an amazing experience and opportunity. Although I graduated in 2019, I still feel part of the “college family” at NC any time I get to return,” said Varmeyer. Ofield cites his NC classes for having opened his eyes to how retail practices can be aligned with environmental sustainability, inspiring the idea for Bulk Barn’s reusable container program. He supported the College’s 21st Annual Golf Classic fundraiser in September with in-kind product for a ‘Candy Barn.’