Wayne Deschouwer, Manitoba (1954-2018)

CAAR’s 2018 Retailer Hall of Fame award, sponsored by Univar Canada, was presented in memory of Wayne Deschouwer, who was taken from family, friends and Manitoba’s agriculture community far too soon when he passed away on Oct. 1, 2018, at the age of 63.

In a career that spanned more than three decades, Deschouwer worked for various suppliers including Westco, Agricore, Viterra and, finally, Agrium. Respected throughout the industry, he forged strong relationships with his customers, most of whom were Co-op retailers.

Supporting Co-op retailers was dear to his heart. Deschouwer first gained a love of agriculture working with his father, who was the manager of the Mariapolis Co-op in the community of Mariapolis, Man.

“Wayne was unabashedly proud of his Manitoba Co-ops,” said Tony Hoess, when he introduced the Retailer Hall of Fame award during the CAAR’s Choice Awards Banquet. 

Hoess, fertilizer merchandiser for Manitoba and southern Saskatchewan with Federated Co-operatives Ltd. (FCL), had a 30-year working relationship with Deschouwer. In that time, he says Deschouwer was a consistently strong ally for Co-ops at the supplier level; always in their corner, fighting for their success.

“He would call us, ‘my Co-ops.’ He really stood up for us a lot; making sure we got the best deal, the best price, the best service,” said Hoess. “To Wayne, the customer was always number one. He wasn’t a company man who did whatever the company said; he was a Co-op man first. He worked for his customers.”

Deschouwer also supported his customers’ businesses by serving as a trusted advisor and an expert source of information. According to Hoess, Deschouwer was extremely knowledgeable about the fertilizer industry across Manitoba, having amassed an incredible amount of information throughout his career.

Wherever he went within the province, Deschouwer knew the details of the area’s farm customers and competitive retail fertilizer structures. He could recite information about the various facility capacities and turnover capabilities in any given area. And, if he could use this information to help his customers solve a challenge, he would.

“He was a problem solver, willing to take on all issues and see them through a positive view,” said Hoess. “But at the same time, he wasn’t a rescuer. He provided guidance and direction and then let retails manage.”

Hoess says that people responded well to this approach, and that Deschouwer was a respected, natural leader who people didn’t want to disappoint.

“I learned a lot about how to work with people through working with Wayne,” said Hoess. “It was just the way he treated people; the way he got things done. Wayne was very good at figuring out what people wanted, and he really listened to people.”

Along with being successful and respected within the agriculture industry, Deschouwer was also a pillar of the sporting community across Manitoba. His leadership skills and way with people served him well throughout his many hours spent as a player, coach and manager for baseball, fastball and hockey teams, primarily in Gladstone and Winnipeg, Man.

Deschouwer received many awards recognizing his contributions to sports and community, including the Leo Bouchard Award for top fastball coach/manager in 1993 and 1999; the Jim Adams Memorial Award for Outstanding Administrator, Builder or Executive Member in 2012; Hockey Manitoba Volunteer of the Year for 2011-12; and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012.

Despite all of these accolades, Deschouwer’s wife of 40 years, Clémence, said that he never liked to receive recognition for his accomplishments, in his career or as a volunteer.

I am truly happy Wayne's dedication made a difference in the communities he's lived in, the sports organizations he was involved with and especially his life-long work in the Canadian agricultural business. Clémence Deschouwer

“Wayne’s commitment to his work and sports was just him doing what he loved to do – working hard and having fun while doing it,” says Clémence. “I believe his greatest sense of joy came from seeing the success that came from the application of his mentorship, input, coaching and leadership.”

Clémence, along with their children Marc and Lisa, received a standing ovation from the banquet crowd as she accepted the award. The Deschouwer family donated the monetary portion of the award to the Roblin Park Community Centre in Winnipeg, where Clémence says her husband spent countless hours over the past 25 years coaching, umpiring or otherwise supporting young athletes.

“I am truly happy Wayne’s dedication made a difference in the communities he’s lived in, the sports organizations he was involved with and especially his life-long work in the Canadian agricultural business,” she says.

Do you know a CAAR member who deserves to be recognized? Click here to download application forms for the 2019 CAAR’s Choice Awards.

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