Feed industry experience helps Blake Copeland skate towards his dream of professional officiating success

Blake Copeland has spent the past few years uniquely positioned as a true Western Canadian renaissance man -- with one foot in the rapidly evolving world of agricultural innovation and the other in the equally fast-paced world of Canadian major junior hockey.

He has spent workdays utilizing his science background and burgeoning sales and marketing skills, while working with farmers and industry across the region, as a member of the team at Calgary-based Canadian Bio-Systems Inc. (CBS Inc.) At the same time, during the hockey season, he has spent many nights a week across the Canadian prairies and northwestern United States patrolling the ice surface as an official in the Western Hockey League.

A random 24 hours can often mean time spent in two different kinds of barns - ones filled with livestock and others jammed to the rafters with thousands of screaming fans.

"In Western Canada, farming and hockey go hand-in-hand as part of the culture," says Copeland. "I've been fortunate to work in both. I've found one aspect that ties both together is the importance of teamwork. Trusting your teammates, understanding your role, and learning to work and communicate effectively as part of a team are essential to success in both areas."

Striving for the summit: Elite League next step

A wealth of experience now gained in the agricultural arena has become a valuable part of Copeland's developmental DNA. He now considers this experience invaluable in helping him to advance his officiating career - as Copeland recently accepted a new opportunity in Europe as an on-ice official with the U.K.-based Elite Ice Hockey League.

"I'm very excited about this opportunity to further pursue my passion for hockey officiating," says Copeland. "At the same time, I couldn't be more grateful to have been part of the team at CBS Inc. and to learn not only from the CBS leadership and staff but also our customers and partners across the region. The culture of teamwork, continual learning, pride in a job well done and always striving to improve is something I was fortunate to be immersed in. It is something I will take with me and rely upon as I move forward with this next step."

Valued team member - Helping drive a new generation

"We are big fans of Blake and have enjoyed working with him as valuable part of the CBS team," says Mark Peters, CBS Director of Sales and Marketing. "We thank him for his many contributions and wish him well as he pursues his passion in the hockey world with this excellent opportunity in the Elite League."

"Blake has been a key contributor to our next generation team and the new wave of progress taking shape for CBS," says Krisjan Jones, CBS Director of Operations. "As we wish him all the best in his new endeavours, this is a direction we will keep building upon as we continue to strengthen and expand our team for the future."

Copeland's focus on learning and development, coupled with a strong team mindset, saw him leverage an initial opportunity as a summer student with CBS Inc. into a series of increasingly advanced roles covering all key facets of the innovation-focused company. CBS researches, develops and manufactures a wide range of bio-based products used in feed, food and industrial applications. The company is a pioneer and leader in feed technology innovation via enzymes, yeasts and other bio-based feed additive formulations that support optimized nutrition capture, feed efficiency and other production benefits.

Best seat in the house

"As a hockey official, I always tell people I have the best seat in the house to watch the hockey game and all the skill on display," says Copeland. "At CBS Inc., working with the broad network of CBS team members, customers and partners, I can also say I had one of the best seats in the house to get an insider's view of agricultural and biotechnology innovation."

It has been an exciting time of technology advancement in the feed industry, and in agriculture as a whole, in recent years as producers and industry modernize to meet the challenge of feeding the world in ever more efficient and sustainable ways, says Copeland. "I have enjoyed having an outstanding vantage point to see a lot the behind-the-scenes advances driving this progress."

Home-grown talent

Copeland grew up in Calgary and spent many summers of his youth at his grandparents’ farm near Saskatoon. In school he was naturally drawn to the sciences and this continued following high school when he went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree, with a major in biology, at the University of Victoria.

For three summers during his university years Copeland returned to Calgary to work as a summer student with CBS Inc., spending the bulk of this time working in the laboratory, learning the CBS Inc. products and their science basis from the ground up. He was hired full-time with CBS Inc. following completion of his degree, leading to the past three years as a key member of the sales and marketing team working across all key aspects of the business.

Championing innovations in feed technology

Among many initiatives and achievements he has been involved with at CBS Inc. Copeland has played a key role in helping to expand the awareness of the potential of feed technology for ruminants , including for example via a product focus on DeStress - Ruminantand the REP5(Ruminant Enhancement Program 5) campaign. Most recently Copeland has contributed to the latest CBS Inc. feed technology suite campaign focused on Feed Science Platforms, as showcased in the recently launched FSP website, which includes an emphasis on helping inform clients and customers on changing regulations and market trends.

Copeland’s second career as a hockey official began with working minor hockey on weekends, progressing through university as he rose from Junior B to Junior A and finally the western league where he has patrolled the ice the past three seasons.

CBS Inc. staff includes a large contingent of hockey fans who sometimes would see Blake in action on the ice during local games such as the Calgary Hitmen, says Jones. "We look forward to the possibility of seeing Blake back in Calgary in the future . . . and reminiscing about booing him at the Hitmen games when any calls went against the home side," he jokes.