Mark Healy – The Root(s) of a Remarkable Local Business

Meet Mark (a.k.a. Mark 1 of 3)

Mark Healy has spent the last 20 years in business – growing, marketing, and selling. When the pandemic hit, he and his business partner, Mark Whitmore (a.k.a. Mark 2 of 3), decided to pause their search for a new investment opportunity. Fast forward to a few weeks later, Mark (Whitmore), completely ignoring their discussion, brought a business to Mark (Healy) for consideration. They discussed whether it fit their parameters (B2B, industrial, a product/business they have some knowledge of) and…it did not check any of the boxes.

So…wait…how did they end up in the horseradish business? Well, Mark (Whitmore) was familiar with the brand and Mark (Healy) loves horseradish but, most importantly, they saw huge potential for growth.

This Product Sells Itself – Literally

When Healy and Whitmore took on ownership of Dennis’, the first order of business was to visit customers. Their intention was to gather feedback about the brand and the product but, instead, they ended up taking orders. Since then, they have quadrupled their accounts and are expanding to the East Coast. As things progressed it was clear that there was potential beyond ‘bottles with our name on it’. Enter Mark Vandenbosch (a.k.a. Mark 3 of 3) who is heading up their efforts in bulk and commercial sales.

Getting to the Root of It

According to Mark (Healy), great horseradish starts with great root. The soil conditions in Norfolk are ideal for producing good quality horseradish (sandy soil -> water drains away -> stresses the root -> root produces oil and becomes hot).

The second most important factor is grind. Dennis’ uses a coarse grind which, compared to the fine grind prevalent in the market, has a better mouthfeel.

Lastly, if they are adding anything, the ingredients must be top notch – the best mustard flower, the best vinegar, the best of everything.

Speaking of adding things, Dennis’ just launched a limited edition Maple Horseradish – a great hot/sweet blend, made with pure Ontario maple syrup. There is a tartar sauce in the works, whose recipe lives in the brain of Master Horseradish Maker, Rick Hantz. And, just in time for the holiday season, they will be re-releasing their popular cranberry horseradish.

Each product comes with a recipe card which helps customers think outside the box when incorporating Dennis’ into their lifestyle. Just because someone doesn’t enjoy roast beef, doesn’t mean they can’t love horseradish.

Playing by the Rules

Since food manufacturing is a highly regulated industry, having partners with specific expertise is key. Dennis’ works closely with their Broker, Mitch Vanwynsberghe of VanMaele Leitch-Gair Insurance, a trusted Nova Mutual Broker partner, to avoid any missteps. And, as business is constantly evolving – from ‘jars with their name on it’, to commercial production to agritourism – they depend on their Broker to keep them informed and help them stay on top of regulations.

Where’s Dennis?

Dennis’ products can be found at butcher shops and niche boutiques, like Tender Cuts in Port Colborne and MH Fine Foods in Cambridge, or at your local Sobeys. The Port Dover stalwart The Erie Beach is proud to carry Dennis’ and over the next year they’re hoping to expand into even more restaurants. If you’re local, their store, located at 10 Arnold Sayeau Drive in Delhi, will be open Fridays and Saturdays as of May 1st for horseradish aficionados and foodie tourists alike.

Written by Emily Gibson, Brand Ambassador