Barry Mankewich, GJ Chemical Company
The winner of the 2017 Agronomist of the Year award has worked in a variety of roles in his 40-year career, but Barry Mankewich has always been happiest when helping his customers in the field.
“I love plant nutrition, crop protection and everything to do with agronomy,” says Mankewich, who has been working as an agronomist with GJ Chemical Company Ltd. at their Arnaud, Man. location since 2006.
“I’ve been a sales representative, I’ve been a retailer manager, but I always wanted to get back to agronomy and working with growers. I’m happy to say that’s where I’m at and this is where I like it,” he says.
Mankewich says he is sure there were many other candidates for the award who were just as deserving, an example of the humble spirit he brought with him on stage to accept his award.
“When GJ manager Brent Manning first told me I’d been selected, I thought he was pulling my chain,” Mankewich said as he accepted his award. “When I saw the email, I realized he wasn’t kidding and I told him, ‘You know, you really shouldn’t surprise an old guy.’”
Throughout his career, Mankewich has gathered an immense wealth of information. He can answer just about any question from coworkers or customers, and if he doesn’t know the answer, he’s sure to find out – a trait that has earned him the nickname “Google” around the Arnaud office.
“I’ve got information in the back of my head from my first years in agronomy,” he says. “Sometimes I rely on older products to get myself out of a jam – I can go back and find a product that most of my customers probably haven’t even heard of.
I’ve never believed in keeping everything to myself. I like to share information and pass it on.
”But that doesn’t mean he isn’t staying current – in fact nothing could be further from the truth. Mankewich believes it is crucially important for agronomists to stay on the cusp of industry developments.
“We work in a very exciting industry with a lot of new genetics and technology coming up. There is so much new information coming out, if you let it slide by you, you’re going to be left behind,” he says.
When he isn’t out in the field, Mankewich is taking in every seminar and workshop he can to build his knowledge and skills. He believes it’s important for all agronomists to attend as many professional development sessions as they can, although he says the purpose of going to workshops isn’t to retain every specific piece of information, but rather for peers to come together and share knowledge.
“I’ve never believed in keeping everything to myself. I like to share information and pass it on,” he says. “Whether it’s a customer, a coworker or one of our summer students, I feel a sense of accomplishment when I’ve helped someone.”
Over the years, we’ve come to rely on (Barry’s) honesty and trusted assessment of any problem that may have come up.
His customers and coworkers alike have come to rely on his attitude of sharing, service and eager willingness to lend a“I love plant nutrition, crop protection and everything to do with agronomy,” says Mankewich, who has been working as an agronomist with GJ Chemical Company Ltd. at their Arnaud, Man. location since 2006. helping hand.
“I have been a customer of Barry’s for over 25 years. I first met him when my father and I wanted some advice on fertility for sugar beets,” wrote producer Mark Treichel in his nomination letter for Mankewich. “Over the years, we’ve come to rely on his honesty and trusted assessment of any problem that may have come up. Barry is always there and ready to help and is a huge asset to our farm.”
But true to his humble spirit, Mankewich doesn’t take all of the credit for the kind words of his customers.
“We have a very diverse and knowledgeable team at GJ Chemical. In accepting this award, I feel I am representing the entire GJ team, and there is no ‘I’ in team,” he said in his speech.
Always thinking of supporting his team, Mankewich donated his cash prize to a trust fund set up for the two children of a colleague who tragically passed away on Jan. 28 of this year.
Do you know a CAAR member who deserves to be recognized? Click here to download application forms for the 2018 CAAR’s Choice Awards.
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