Award sponsored by Univar Canada: Pattie Ganske accepts the Retailer Hall of Fame award from Jordan Bobinski of Univar Canada.

Pattie Ganske, Former Owner – Parkland Fertilizers

When she first started working part-time at Parkland Fertilizers in Wetaskiwin, Alta., Pattie Ganske didn’t know she was paving the way for woman in agri-retail and agriculture.

More than three decades later, her excellence in business, participation on numerous boards, including multiple terms on the CAAR board, and unwavering dedication to agriculture advocacy have earned her the 2017 Retailer Hall of Fame award.

“Pattie’s many years of dedication and passion for the industry are truly remarkable. It was my privilege to honour such a deserving recipient with this prestigious award,” says Jordan Bobinski, territory manager with Univar Canada.

“Thirty-four years ago, I was a young mom and I needed a job. I was only supposed to be at Parkland for six weeks during the spring,” says Ganske. “The season wrapped up, but nobody told me to stop coming in. I said, ‘Should I just keep showing up to work?’ So, I like to say that I made myself indispensable.”

After 12 years, Ganske joined Parkland’s ownership team with a 12 per cent share – this saw her become one of the first Canadian women not part of a husband and wife team, to own an ag retail. After approximately five years, Ganske became a 50/50 partner, and later a 45 per cent partner. She was also a 25 per cent owner in Parkland’s second location in Lacombe, Alta.

When she retired in 2017, Ganske sold Parkland Wetaskiwin and Lacombe to Wetaskiwin Co-op and Central Alberta Co-op, respectively.

According to her daughter, Pamela Ganske, who “grew up under her mom’s desk,” Ganske was admired by her employees, and set an example for her team when interacting with colleagues and customers.

“She was business savvy, but she approached everyone with kindness, and that was really reflected in the people she hired and the atmosphere around the office. She built a business that felt like a family,” says Pamela, who now works with Wetaskiwin Co-op as the agro marketing & administration coordinator.

Pamela also credits her mother with breaking down gender barriers and describes her as a trailblazer for women across Canadian agriculture.

“I picture it like a field, covered in snow, with no tracks or any markings on it,” says Pamela. “She started plowing the way through the field, and now the next generation is taking over. We’re starting off further along, and it’s easier for us to go forward because of the work she put in.”

Ganske is proud to see her daughter working in agriculture. Throughout her career, Ganske says she frequently said she was going to write a book about her experience and call it “No Line for the Washroom,” a quip that she is happy to see is losing its ring of truth over time.

“When I spoke at the Advancing Woman in Ag conference in March 2017, I looked around the room and thought, ‘Well, my book title no longer applies,’” she says. “There are so many more women in ag today, and it’s wonderful to see.”

Along with being a pioneer for women, Ganske is especially proud of her work as an “agvocate” in Agriculture More Than Ever’s “Be an Agvocate” outreach campaign. Ganske believes that everyone who works in agriculture has a responsibility to advocate on behalf of the industry.

“People are so unaware of what agriculture does and how we do it, that any voice we can have to promote our industry and what we do is so important,” she says. “If you’re in the industry, speaking up for it is the best thing that you can do.”

People are so unaware of what agriculture does and how we do it, that any voice we can have to promote our industry and what we do is so important. Pattie Ganske

This was the message Ganske shared as she accepted her award during the 2018 CAAR Conference, with her daughter Pamela proudly supporting her in the audience.

“I ask that throughout the year, you speak to somebody else about what we do in agriculture,” she says. “Tell them how important it is to you, how important it is to our lives, and please, next year, bring somebody to the CAAR Conference so they can share, see and know what it is we do in this industry.”

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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