Ag retailers from across the country gathered in Winnipeg, Man. for education, inspiration and unbeatable networking opportunities at the Ag Retail Event of the Year.

It’s always enjoyable to see familiar faces. Because the agriculture sector is so small, it’s nice to stay connected with people in the industry – and most of them are here!
Steven McQueen, MC Ag Solutions

The Icebreaker Cocktail Reception

Sponsored by John Deere Financial

The 2019 CAAR Conference kicked off in style at the Icebreaker Cocktail Reception. Spirits were high as delegates mingled over refreshments and hors d’oeuvres to celebrate the start of the conference and Canada’s Agriculture Day.

It was good to hear perspectives from other retailers to take home and put into our business.
Brian Downie, Shur-Gro Farm Services Ltd.

Roundtable Discussions

Many delegates took the opportunity to join in on the roundtable discussions, held just prior to the official opening of the conference. The sessions were an excellent opportunity for participants to kick-start their networking and learn from each other as they covered topics such as retail management, workplace safety and technology.

We exhibited last year and the review from our team was ‘fantastic,’ so we decided to come to Winnipeg to keep the ball rolling.
Gerri Masciangelo, Norseman Structures

The Tradeshow

The hub of the conference, the tradeshow floor was where delegates made valuable connections with exhibitors, checked out the latest products and services, and gathered for networking breaks and meals.

Tradeshow Exhibitor of the Year

Congratulations to Hi-Tech Installations, the 2019 CAAR Conference Exhibitor of the Year!

Conference champions – the Hi-Tech team pose with Winnipeg Blue Bomber alumni – Rod Hill, Lyle Bauer and Paul Bennett.

Hi-Tech Installations, known for their charitable activities in the community, used their booth to not only showcase their services, but to draw attention to two charities that they hold dear – the Never Alone Foundation and Siloam Mission. The booth was a flurry of activity throughout the show as the Hi-Tech team played host to several Winnipeg Blue Bombers alumni, who graciously posed for photos and signed autographs. It was an experience that Sara Michaud of Hi-Tech described as humbling.

“We’re all here for the same reason – to connect with customers and our fellow exhibitors – but it’s a humbling experience to be able to give back,” said Michaud. “That’s what a lot of this tradeshow has been about, and it was a successful week for everyone.”

Ralph Eichler, Manitoba Minister of Agriculture

CAAR Pro-Ag Investments Auction

Manitoba’s Agriculture Minister, the honourable Ralph Eichler, stopped by to lend auctioneers Sheldon Matsalla and Dallas Ballie a hand with the proceedings.

“Thank you CAAR for hosting your conference in Manitoba. I’m a big supporter of agriculture retail and I understand the importance of networking opportunities like this for businesses to learn from each other,” said Ralph Eichler.

Eichler, a former livestock auctioneer, surprised the crowd by challenging the pair to a friendly Manitoba vs. Saskatchewan competition to auction off identical items. Eichler held his own and he edged-out his competition to get a higher winning bid on his lot.

This year’s auction brought in just over $97,000, with the help of generous donors and enthusiastic bidders. Thank you to everyone who bid and bought, and to those who donated the many incredible items that crossed the auction block!

The annual auction is CAAR’s only fundraiser, with proceeds supporting a diverse range of initiatives, including CAAR’s participation in industry events, ongoing lobbying efforts and scholarships for agriculture students.

Speaker Sessions

A key component of every CAAR Conference is to inform and motivate attendees through speaker sessions on a range of topics and trends.

Industry Update

Representatives from Fertilizer Canada, CropLife Canada and the Canadian Seed Trade Association provided retailers with timely information on 4R Nutrient Stewardship, the PMRA’s proposed neonics ban and proposed seed value creation models, respectively. Cassandra Cotton of Fertilizer Canada stressed the importance of retailers communicating this information to their farm customers.

Lesley Kelly: Mental Health Awareness

Sponsored by Farm Credit Canada

Mental health advocate, Saskatchewan farmer and co-founder of the Do More Ag Foundation, Lesley Kelly, spoke to delegates about the importance of fostering and normalizing conversations about mental health.

After sharing her own story of how mental health has impacted her family, Kelly offered retailers suggestions on how they can show support to their staff and customers and encouraged them to prioritize their own health.

Graham Sherman: Unleash Your Disruptive Behaviour

Sponsored by BASF Canada

Graham Sherman, co-founder of Calgary’s Tool Shed Brewing, started the final day of the conference with his infectious enthusiasm and the story of how his business came to be, leaving everyone in attendance fired up and inspired to cause a little disruption of their own.

Dean Klippenstine: Does Your Lender Understand Your Business Needs?

Sponsored by Rempel Insurance Brokers

This is our first year at the conference and it’s been wonderful. We wanted to sponsor a presentation as a way of giving back to the industry that we’re a part of..
David Schmidt, Rempel Insurance Brokers

Dean Klippenstein, a partner and advisor with MNP’s agriculture team, gave a dynamic presentation and shared some great advice to help retailers get the best possible service from their lenders. The big take-away from Klippenstein’s presentation is that retailers should be prepared to spell out all of their expectations, as few lenders truly understand the needs of the agri-retailer.

Dr. Sylvain Charlebois: The Future of Canadian Agriculture

Delivering a keynote to close-off the 2019 CAAR Conference, food security expert Dr. Sylvain Charlebois offered up some food for thought on the future of Canadian agriculture. Charlebois, who is the Dean of the Faculty of Management at Halifax ’s Dalhousie University, delved into the newly-released Canadian Food Guide produced by Health Canada. Charlebois described changes to the guide as an “urbanization” that has widened the disconnect between rural and urban consumers.

Panel Discussions

Two insightful panel discussions created buzz amongst conference delegates. In the first, three Manitoba farmers candidly talked about what they need and want from their retailers and, in the second, a “power panel” made up of executives from four of the industry’s biggest players addressed one of the most talked-about topics in ag retail – mergers and acquisitions.

Click here to read highlights of the Mergers and Acquisitions Panel and watch for a transcript of the Farmer Panel in the August issue of The Communicator.

Save the Date - 25 Years!

Please mark your calendars and make plans to join the CAAR team from Feb. 11-13, 2020 in Saskatoon, Sask., for the 25th Annual CAAR Conference. You won’t want to miss this milestone event! Watch for conference announcements and information in future issues of The Communicator, on and in The CAAR Network.

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