Geoff Jones (right)accepts the Chairman’s Award from Martin Kiefer on behalf of Bob McNaughton.

Bob McNaughton, Sylvite Agri Services

The winner of CAAR’s 2017 Chairman’s Award has been a force in the Ontario fertilizer industry throughout his career, which has spanned more than 40 years. Although his business achievements are numerous and impressive, it is his commitment to giving back to the industry and his active, vocal and passionate support for CAAR that earned Bob McNaughton the Chairman’s Award.

"To me, it seems like a simple thing,” says McNaughton. “The industry has been good to us. The industry has given us good jobs, good careers and the ability to lead a good life. I think we need to recognize that and give back.”

In 1974, McNaughton entered the industry with Canadian Industries Limited, and in 1989 went on to co-found Sylvite Agri Services, (Sylvite) an Ontario-based fertilizer wholesaler.

Over the years, he has generously dedicated his time to numerous organizations to benefit the industry, serving as vice chair of the Ontario Fertilizer Institute, vice chair and chair of Fertilizer Canada and the Fertilizer Safety and Security Council, chair of the Ontario Agri Business Council and chair of the Fertilizer Industry Roundtable.

McNaughton also served on CAAR’s board of directors, including a term as board chair in 2010, and enjoyed the opportunity to make a contribution. “It was a great experience to be a part of the association and see it mature and strengthen. I guess I was some help along the way,” he says with a chuckle.

McNaughton stresses that CAAR is an important voice in the industry for all retailers, from the smallest independent to the largest line company. “CAAR is the vehicle through which any ag retail operation, from a single ‘mom-and-pop’ operation to a mega chain, can address common issues and come up with solutions.

CAAR is the vehicle through which any ag retail operation, from a single ‘mom-and-pop’ operation to a mega chain, can address common issues and come up with solutions. Bob McNaughton

“CAAR will continue to work on the issues we know are on the horizon, and they’ll be there to help on issues we are not even thinking about today,” McNaughton says. “The need for CAAR is just as big now as it ever was, and it will continue to be just as important.”

Born and raised in Ontario, McNaughton says that through his involvement with CAAR, he was able to expand his knowledge of agriculture and agri-retail across the country.

“Being involved with CAAR gave me a better understanding of who the major players in Western Canada are, and how the landscape is different from Eastern Canada – and it is different,” he says. “At Sylvite we did, and still do, have marketing in Western Canada. Having that experience with CAAR and gaining so much information gave me a good idea of how to better approach and better serve any new customer base Sylvite may develop in the west.”

The opportunity to meet new people and form connections across the industry stands out for McNaughton as the highlight of his time with CAAR. He calls the experiences of meeting many different CAAR members a “true reward,” and says he always looked forward to the annual CAAR Conference as a great opportunity to meet new members.

Unfortunately, he was not able to attend the 2018 conference in Saskatoon due to a family commitment. His colleague Geoff Jones, sales director at Sylvite, accepted the Chairman’s Award on his behalf during the CAAR’s Choice Awards Banquet.

“It is truly an honour to accept this award on behalf of Bob McNaughton,” said Jones as he addressed the crowd. “Bob became my mentor when I joined Sylvite in 1996, and he remains my mentor to this day.”

In his acceptance speech, delivered by Jones, McNaughton took the time to reiterate his support for CAAR, and urged members to make a renewed commitment to the organization in 2018.

“Since the formation of CAAR, we at Sylvite have been strong supporters of this important organization… I encourage all present this evening to recommit your organization to CAAR, and to encourage others, regardless of size and scope, to commit,” read Jones. “As a member of CAAR, you can and do make a difference.”

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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