Dennis Billo

2006

Dennis was born in 1945 on a farm near Prud’homme, Saskatchewan, the second of four children. In 1950, a train accident claimed his father’s life and seriously injured his mother. This necessitated a move to town, and later to Saskatoon.

Coming from a French community and family, Dennis’s education was bilingual. After elementary school in Prud’homme, he attended College Mathieu in Gravelbourg where he completed his Grade 12  and a Bachelor of Arts degree with a biology major. This was followed by a Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Ottawa.

It was during that time he met his future wife, Linda. Newly married, they both started teaching in the Humboldt area. After five years, he decided to pursue a career in marine biology. Fate intervened, when his father-in-law asked him to help out for a year with his fledgling turkey hatchery.


Dennis joined Hillcrest Farms in 1972, and took on the job of hatchery manager, a position he held for 28 years. He is presently President and a major shareholder in the company. Hillcrest Farms Ltd is a family owned company that originated as a small turkey-producing farm started by Julius and Florence Pulvermacher in the early fifties. Two of their sons, Guy and Kevin also came on board after finishing university.

 

It evolved into a diversified company employing over forty-five people. At that time, Hillcrest produced 2,000,000 lbs of turkey per year, operated a commercial feed mill that manufactured feed for all species of livestock, and operated the only turkey hatchery in the province of Saskatchewan, with sales of day-old turkey poults in all four western provinces and the northern states.  Complementing the hatchery were breeder farms supplying the hatchery with hatching eggs.

 

Hillcrest also produced over 1,000,000 lbs of pork. This facility was used for the research and development of better hog feeds for the industry. Some of the turkey production facilities were also designed for comparative feed and treatment trials. Rodenticides were manufactured and distributed across western Canada.

 

Although there was more than enough work at home, the partners agreed that involvement in industry affairs was an important part of assuring the continued success of the industry. In 1975 Dennis joined the Saskatchewan Hatchery Association. During a 25 year period he served terms as vice-chair, chair and as turkey advisor to the Canadian Hatchery Federation. He was also elected to serve as delegate to the Canadian Hatchery Federation, a position he held for 20 years, with one year as President.  

 

In 1978, Dennis was elected to the Saskatchewan Turkey Marketing Board. He served as a director for 27 years and it’s chairman for 19 years. He also served on the Canadian Turkey Marketing Agency for 11 years during which time he was as vice-chairman and executive member for one term each.

 

He has also served on various committees and task forces. Some of the more interesting were:

  • A Poultry Trade Mission to China, Korea, Japan, and Hong Kong

  • Working on developing industry standards for the care and humane treatment of poultry.

  • Serving on the Turkey Breeder Policy Review Committee.

  • Being part of the Turkey Industry Working Group (FPA Renewal).

  • Chairing of the CTMA Turkey Marketing Advisory Committee.

  • Being a member of the HACCP Design Team/Live Production Committee.

 

In 1996, Dennis was invited to serve a four-year term on the board of The Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization. He was chairman of VIDO in 1999.

 

Linda and Dennis raised two daughters, Deanna, the youngest, is practicing law in Victoria. Their oldest daughter, Janelle is married to Evan Franko. She is presently taking a break from teaching, to care for her son, Cameron.

 

Dennis and Linda now live in Saskatoon. They enjoy being grandparents and traveling. Dennis’ interests include restoring British sports cars, and outdoor pursuits. He presently is training to become a pilot.

 

Dennis has always enjoyed working with people. He is in great demand by his many friends and family, helping out with various projects. Although he is ‘retired,’ he doesn’t show any signs of slowing down soon.