Art Funk of Rolla Ag (1960-2016)
Art Funk started his career in the agri-retail industry as a one-man operation, which quickly grew into a prosperous and multi-faceted business. His years of dedication to his customers, his community and the industry were recognized when he was named the recipient of the Retailer Hall of Fame award at the 10th annual CAAR’s Choice Awards Banquet.
Delaney Ross Burtnack, president and CEO of CAAR, addressed the crowd at the banquet during the 2017 CAAR Conference.
“He stuck to his game plan, he was not influenced by price wars or price cutters. He was passionate about educating the public, correcting common misconceptions and had a unique way of facilitating a discussion that turned into a thoughtful, hopeful and knowledgeable conversation,” she said.
Sadly, Art Funk passed away on April 6, 2016 at the age of 55. His wife, Anne-Marie Funk, received a standing ovation from the crowd when she accepted the award on his behalf at the CAAR’s Choice Awards Banquet.
She described her husband as passionate about life, business, agriculture and customer service; earning him the respect of his customers and colleagues. He was recognized and renowned for his dedication to customer service, something that he believed would set his retail operation apart from others.
“He was just not your typical person,” she says. “He poured in 110 per cent, he lived life very passionately. He just really believed that farming was noble work and he wanted to provide his customers with the very best service and resources that he could. He was a hard worker, very intelligent and was always researching to make sure he was staying relevant.
“I so wish he was here tonight to receive this honour himself, but in his absence, his family and his business partners – myself and Brandon Funk – are deeply grateful. It is with deep respect that we accept this award and thank you for honouring him tonight.”
Heavily involved in his community of Rolla, B.C., Art Funk became a friend and confidant to many, and even officiated a number of weddings in the community, says Burtnack. His consideration of the needs and wants of his staff led to a family environment at work, and his home was open to anyone who needed help in Rolla. Over the years, more than 20 kids found a home there for weeks or years. Two of those kids have since become permanent family.
Funk served on the CAAR board for two years, during which he was a positive influence and creative participant, one who freely offered his insight on CAAR initiatives. Throughout his term, CAAR underwent significant changes like introducing a new logo, redeveloping each of its member services and introducing a new online training platform and new training courses. Burtnack says Art Funk’s guidance was an important factor in the successful implementation of these changes for CAAR.
“Art was a true innovator in the agri-retail industry. His legacy went far beyond his business, as he left his mark on the community, CAAR as an association and the industry at large,” she says. “It was truly an honour for CAAR to have the opportunity to highlight his legacy and pay respect to his memory alongside his family members, colleagues and friends.”
Art Funk’s passion for the industry and his customers was unparalleled. This was displayed when he invited some of his customers on a farm tour through Brazil and Argentina, believing that it was beneficial to be aware of the bigger picture and understand how the global industry works.
“He didn’t do it as a job – it was his passion,” says Anne-Marie Funk. “You don’t do things because you want to be recognized or rewarded for it. But when you are, I think it’s a very satisfying feeling. I think it would’ve meant a lot to him to know that he was recognized.”
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