The Retailer of the Year award, sponsored by Bayer, celebrates the successes one ag retailer has achieved in making a difference in the lives of their customers through excellent customer service and community support, support for their staff and leadership in the industry.
Crop Management Network (CMN), central Alberta’s largest independent retail network, took home this prestigious award for 2019 at the CAAR’s Choice Awards Banquet.
“I would like to say that receiving this award is extremely humbling,” said James Mitchell, CEO of Crop Management Network as he accepted the award and began his acceptance speech. “Anytime you can be recognized by your peers and in your industry is an amazing accomplishment, and we feel very proud to be among this group.”
CMN started from humble beginnings, with one location in Edberg, Alta. Now, the expansive company has nine locations serving the communities of Edberg, Daysland, Vegreville, Fort Saskatchewan, Holden, Stettler, Camrose and, as of 2018, Onoway and Meyerthrope when the company acquired the assets of Dow Fertilizer in those communities.
“They have come a long way in the past few years,” said Mitch Rezansoff, as he introduced the award. “The first location of the network was Edberg Crop Management, which opened in 2007. The first office was an ATCO trailer. Soon, they were building an office, chem shed and dry fertilizer plant.”
In 2012, CMN opened its Kelsey, Alta. transload site, which has access to the CN rail and now offloads liquid and dry fertilizer to all CMN locations, allowing for greater speed and efficiency of delivery to customers.
Like opening the Kelsey Transload site, CMN has made many strategic decisions, investments and acquisitions as they have expanded across central Alberta. One of these was acquiring Sjogren Logistics in 2013, which was rebranded as Crop Management Logistics Inc. This logistics arm of the company has a fleet of 10 trucks providing fertilizer transportation to other retailers, agri businesses and grower customers.
This is one example of how the business’s growth reflects their core value of finding opportunities to provide excellent customer service. For Kevin Birch, a customer of the CMN Edberg location, it’s that exceptional customer service that has kept him coming back to CMN since the company first opened its doors in 2007.
“The customer service is just spectacular,” says Birch, who operates a grain farm growing primarily wheat and barley near Edberg “I’ve been a customer with them for 13 years and it’s the customer service that is the biggest thing for me that keeps me coming back every year. It’s just excellent.”
Birch sources all of his crop protection products and fertilizer exclusively from CMN, and says he relies heavily on CMN’s agronomy services, including crop scouting and variable-rate fertilizer application.
“The staff are out there walking my fields before I am. I really rely on them to be out there and to let me know what they’re seeing,” says Birch. “We also map all of our land and they help us make the smartest fertilizer application plans and do some of the variable rate application.”
Along with the services he relies on, Birch says he likes doing business with CMN because of their support for charity causes in the communities where they operate.
A project that is particularly important to both Birch and CMN is the Edberg Growing Project. A local farmer named Terry Gabert donates approximately 90 acres to the Canadian Foodgrains Bank each year, and CMN has been a proud sponsor and supporter of this project.
“I like that they support local farmers. They have really helped to lead and coordinate getting all the product for that food bank project and they’ve been big supporters of that,” says Birch.
When he accepted the award, Mitchell was sure to turn the spotlight onto his team at CMN and their strategic partners, whom he says have made CMN’s success possible over the years.
“There are sixty-two other people back in Alberta who all contributed to this award,” he said proudly.
Mitchell also took a moment to recognize the company’s joint venture partner, Agrico, noting that the structure of the company has been very beneficial to them.
For Mitchell, another important aspect of CMN is its employee ownership initiative. Along with himself and his wife, there are nine employee owners of CMN.
“Every good employee in our company who demonstrates integrity and longevity, we want to have them have an opportunity to be an owner,” said Mitchell. “That’s a unique part of our company I wanted to share. Thank you again for this award and thank you CAAR for hosting this event.”
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