Five Canadian agri-retailers were recognized for their achievements at the 11th annual CAAR’s Choice Awards Banquet. The winners took to the stage on Feb. 14, to receive their award in the company of their peers during the gala event, part of the 2018 CAAR Conference running from Feb. 13-15 in Saskatoon, Sask.

“It is an honour and a privilege for CAAR to recognize our members’ outstanding commitment to business excellence, their communities and sustainability,” says Mitch Rezansoff, Executive Director of CAAR. “Putting competition aside for one night and coming together as an industry to celebrate our winners is extremely valuable. Their contributions to the agriculture industry give us all something to be proud of.”

The CAAR’s Choice Awards, the only Canadian awards program of its kind, recognizes agri-retailers in the following five categories: 4R Nutrient Stewardship Retailer of the Year, Agronomist of the Year, the Chairman’s Award, Retailer of the Year and the Retailer Hall of Fame Award.

This year’s winners:

4R Nutrient Stewardship Retailer of the Year: Co-operative Retailing System, Western Canada

Award Sponsored by Fertilizer Canada

The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Agri-Retailer Award recognizes one CAAR member team that has shown leadership in the adoption of 4R Nutrient Stewardship into their business practices.

Co-operative Retailing System (CRS) was recognized for its company-wide effort to take its commitment to 4R Nutrient Stewardship to the next level. The company has spent significant time and resources on internal marketing initiatives to ensure that all agronomists and other staff understand the economic, environmental and social value of 4R Nutrient Stewardship.

Trish Meyers, knowledge and innovation manager at Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL) accepted the award. FCL, along with approximately 200 retail co-ops across Western Canada, form the CRS.

Agronomist of the Year: Barry Mankewich, Manitoba

Award Sponsored by J.R. Simplot AgriBusiness

The Agronomist of the Year Award recognizes a CAAR member agronomist who consistently exceeds expectations through dedication to their field and their agronomic knowledge.

CAAR’s 2017 Agronomist of the Year Barry Mankewich has worked in a variety of roles including agri-retailer manager in his 40-year career, but he has always been happier in the field than anywhere else.

In his 12 years at GJ Chemical Company Co., Mankewich has been a highly trusted advisor, dedicated to helping his customers grow the best crop possible. Known for his impressive ability to recall detailed product information, Mankewich is nicknamed “Google” by his coworkers.

Chairman’s Award: Bob McNaughton, Ontario

Chosen by CAAR’s Board Chair, the Chairman’s award is given to an individual who is a strong supporter of the Association and the agri-retail industry in general.

Bob McNaughton, director at Sylvite Agri Services, an Ontario-based fertilizer wholesaler, is the winner of the 2017 CAAR’s Chairman’s Award. McNaughton says he believes agri-retailers should actively support CAAR because CAAR actively works to strengthen the agri-retail industry.

McNaughton has served on CAAR’s board of directors and served as chair of the board, an experience he describes as a privilege. Born in raised in Ontario, McNaughton saw immense value in the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the industry in Western Canada through his work with CAAR and enjoyed meeting retailers from across the country at the annual CAAR Conference. His colleague Geoff Jones, sales director at Sylvite, accepted the award on his behalf.

Retailer of the Year: Redfern Farm Services, Virden, Manitoba

Award Sponsored by Bayer CropScience Inc.

The Retailer of the Year Award was established in 2008 and recognizes one CAAR member that went above and beyond to serve its customers.

Redfern Farm Services, Virden, is known as a leader in adopting new technology. Whether it is the newest hybrid seed technology, or adoption of variable rate, mapping and data management, they can offer it. The Virden location offers their customers access to Farmers Edge and Decisive Farming VRA Services as part of their agronomy package.

Since joining Redfern Farm Services in 2015, manager Lane Wanless has seen his location grow rapidly – adding both staff and physical space to the Virden location – and 2018 will be no exception. This summer, the team is looking forward to upgrades to the fertilizer plant, which will increase both capacity and speed of loading.

Retailer Hall of Fame: Pattie Ganske, Alberta

Award Sponsored by Univar Canada

The Retailer Hall of Fame award was established in 2008 and recognizes an individual from one member location who has consistently demonstrated exceptional performance and dedication over time.

When she first started working part-time at Parkland Fertilizers in Wetaskiwin, Alta., Pattie Ganske didn’t know she had begun paving the way for women in agri-retail. Her industry leadership has earned her a reputation as a trailblazer, and CAAR’s 2017 Retailer Hall of Fame award.

Ganske’s six-week term turned into 34 years, during which time she became a part-owner in the company. Throughout her career, she was heavily involved in various boards and committees, including the CAAR board of directors, the board of GROW Community of Independents (now WinField United Canada), and the Independent Dealer Entrepreneurial Association board.

Ganske retired in 2017 and is busy planning her next entrepreneurial venture, which will combine her passion for agriculture with travel.

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