HALIFAX, N.S. – John Bragg’s still got game.
“I have this saying that, ‘every day I go to work I try to bring value,’” said Bragg. “It’s not always easy to do, but I work at it.”
Bragg, now 78, has brought value to rural Nova Scotia since founding, owning and operating Oxford Frozen Foods in 1968.
That value was recognized earlier this month at Province House in Halifax, where he received the Order of Nova Scotia.
Bragg has received many awards throughout the years, including the Order of Canada in 1996. He says this latest award is a great honour.
“We have so many people in Nova Scotia that volunteer and contribute to life, and it’s good to see our own recognized,” he said.
Bragg still keeps a busy schedule. On weekdays, he arrives at his office at Oxford Frozen Foods between 8 and 8:30 a.m., and goes home between 5 or 5:30 p.m.
“I usually take stuff home in my briefcase either at night or on the weekend. There’s always lots to do,” he said.
Bragg’s drive and ambition comes from love of the job, and a love for the people he works with.
“I’ve worked my entire life and I enjoy work. Also, we’ve got great people. I don’t know what I’d do without work and the people I work with.”
Bragg has more than 5,000 employees throughout his network, which also includes Eastlink and Inland Technologies.
Bragg has never lived far from home. Born in Springhill, he grew up in Collingwood, went to high school in Oxford, and continues to live Collingwood.
“I think the quality of life in Nova Scotia is tremendous, and the standard of living is great,” said Bragg. “So much of what we do is free; hunting, fishing, walking in the woods, enjoying life. I think it’s a great place to bring up a family.”
Bragg says he would much rather live in the country than in a big city, but living in a small town isn’t out of the question.
“Amherst is nice too, but it’s not exactly a metropolitan area.”
Business is built upon transactions and interactions, and Bragg’s rural Nova Scotia roots have helped him build strong relationships with people throughout the world.
“I think that those of us who live in rural Nova Scotia have a sense of confidence that allows us to meet freely,” said Bragg. “When you’re doing business, the people you meet and the way you do business and the way you interact with people is critical to the success of doing business.
“We’ve been doing business with a Japanese company now for 30 or 35 years, and we have friends in Germany and France, and throughout the world," he added. "There’s nothing like building relationships."
As long as he keeps adding value to his business empire, Bragg will continue to build friendships at home and abroad; but it’s not all work and no play. Bragg's also got game on the golf course.
“I travel in my work a lot but I do take lots of holidays,” said Bragg. “I was in Florida for three days last week, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, and I had three days of golf.”
Bragg’s 2018 Order of Nova Scotia biography read: “Starting with a frozen food plant in 1968, John has built an empire of private business that operates on an international scale. Under his leadership, Oxford Frozen Foods, Eastlink, and Inland Technologies are some of Nova Scotia’s best-known companies. John also shares his expertise to help other Atlantic Canadian businesses grow and develop, serving on boards and investing in startups. John has a passionate commitment to Nova Scotia, particularly our rural areas, and shares his profits through many charitable efforts, most notably investing tens of millions of dollars in our region’s universities.”
The other five recipients of the 2018 Order of Nova Scotia were: Gymnast Ellie Black, social justice activist Clotilda Douglas-Yakimchuk, historian Janet Kitz, caregiver and activist Patti Melanson, and Wade Smith, former principal at Citadel High School in Halifax who died in 2017 at the age of 50 after a battle with stomach cancer.
Bragg fun fact:
In 1894, John Bragg’s father’s uncle, Albert Warren Bragg, founded Bragg Creek, Alta., which is west of Calgary, near Kananaskis Country and the Rocky Mountains.
“I ask friends and associates in Calgary if they’ve been to Bragg Creek, and they say, ‘certainly,’” said Bragg. “I tell them that the guy who founded it grew up in the same house I did. There’s quite a few Braggs in the Calgary area, and they all came from Collingwood.”