Laurie Manshreck of Paterson Grain
You’d be hard-pressed to find a more dedicated agronomist than Laurie Manshreck, retail manager with Paterson Grain in Melita, Man. After nearly 30 years in the industry, Manshreck has lost no enthusiasm for her work and is just as invested in her customers today as she was on day one.
“She spends a huge amount of time with her clients, she doesn’t cut any corners,” says John Daniels, a colleague of Manshreck’s and product manager at Paterson Grain’s head office. “In the fall, Laurie’s doing soil testing. In the dead of winter, I’ll get an email from her at 11 in the evening and she’s making cropping plans.”
It’s that commitment to her customers and their operations that earned Manshreck the Agronomist of the Year award at the 10th annual CAAR’s Choice Awards Banquet.
“What really struck me about Laurie when I met her was the level of personal investment she has in her clients,” says Daniels. “She puts everything she has into her work.”
Manshreck strives for excellence throughout every step of the season, and she experiences the successes and losses along with her clients.
“Let’s say a hail storm rolls in and they lose a few fields – I take it almost as hard as they do,” she says. “I don’t have the economic tie to the fields, but I know the pain they feel.”
This extra layer of understanding comes from Manshreck’s own farming experience. She and her husband have been farming near Deloraine, Man. for almost 30 years.
“Because I farm too, I know the importance of giving good recommendations. I know the importance of planning and budgeting properly and I know the economic risks that Mother Nature can toy with,” she explains.
Short of controlling the weather, Manshreck does everything she can to help her customers succeed despite what sometimes seems like nature’s best efforts to the contrary.
“A farmer can do everything right, then Mother Nature comes in,” she says. “I’m there to hopefully help mitigate the risks by giving solid recommendations and being a third party they can bounce ideas off.”
The effects nature can have on producers was never more evident than when southwestern Manitoba experienced flooding during the spring of 2014. Daniels says during the flood, it was clear to everyone how much Manshreck cared about her customers.
“Farmers couldn’t seed; their livelihood was going to be seriously impacted,” he says. “You could tell Laurie was 100 per cent emotionally invested. She was out there trying her best to help them salvage anything they could.”
According to Daniels, going above and beyond to help others isn’t something Manshreck reserves just for her clients – she’s always willing to lend a helping hand to her colleagues.
“Our newer staff are generally drawn to her because of her immense knowledge. She spends a lot of time nurturing a lot of people,” he says. “Even if she’s extremely busy and really doesn’t have time to help someone, that doesn’t mean she won’t help them.”
Manshreck’s extensive knowledge is the result of the time she puts in to ensure she is always on top of the latest industry advancements. According to Daniels, Manshreck is dedicated to continuing her education and is frequently attending seminars, workshops and meeting with suppliers. “She does all that so she can deliver the very best advice she can to her clients,” he says.
Between long hours, frequent training and spending emotional energy, Manshreck admits that it isn’t always easy to do what she does.
“The hours you have to work to do this job requires a lot of sacrifice with your own family sometimes,” she says. “My busiest time at work is our farm’s busiest time, too. You need strong support at home to do this job.”
But despite the personal sacrifice, she says it’s worth every minute.
“I love helping people. I get a sense of pride when the people I’ve helped succeed,” she says. “Maybe I’m a little bit old school that way, but that’s how I feel.”