There was no bigger smile at the CAAR’s Choice Awards Banquet than Dennis Bulani’s as he received a standing ovation from the audience while accepting CAAR’s 2019 Retailer Hall of Fame award.
The Retailer Hall of Fame award, sponsored by Glacier FarmMedia, is the lifetime achievement award for the ag retail industry. It recognizes an individual’s dedication to the health of the industry, excellence in business and support for their communities and staff.
“I am humbled to receive this award, particularly because it’s from CAAR,” said Bulani as he began his acceptance speech. “CAAR has been my safe place. I feel like I can take a couple of days and come here and take my gloves off and share ideas with my competitors and my peers. It’s always been very important to me.”
Bulani, CEO of Rack Petroleum, one of the largest independent retailers in Saskatchewan, has been a vocal and active supporter of CAAR since the association’s formation in 1995. He firmly believes that in order to have a healthy, vibrant environment for independent retail to thrive and foster innovation, retailers need a forum for networking with industry peers.
“CAAR leads us all to a bigger future and a higher standard overall. And I think what I get from this conference is to always try to be at a higher standard,” says Bulani.
According to Larry Balion, Alpine brand manager with Nachurs Alpine Solutions, Bulani’s reputation for raising the standard wherever he goes proceeds him. Balion says Bulani is an inspirational figure to his fellow retailers, supplier partners and other members of the industry.
“I think the work he does brings up the value of the entire industry. He motivates other people to stay on the top of their game,” says Balion. “He has such enthusiasm that you become more enthusiastic about your position. I think he inspires salespeople and other dealers to always do better.”
Sometimes doing things better means doing things differently. Balion points to The Rack’s Ultimate Yield Management Institute (UYMI), which has produced some of the most up-to-date research on soil fertility in Western Canada, as something very different, but extremely valuable that Bulani has contributed to Canadian ag retail.
As well, Balion says the very nature of The Rack’s expansion across Saskatchewan has shown Bulani’s commitment to the communities in which his company operates.
“I’ve always found Dennis to be a really big supporter of rural communities,” he says. “At times when bigger companies close in an area, Dennis has stepped up and made sure there was a retail location to serve the needs of farmers in that region.”
Along with supporting industry and community, Bulani’s support for the Rack Petroleum team has been a constant. At the banquet, he thanked a few staff members whom he said have been instrumental in the company’s success.
“This award is bigger than me. It is really about the great people I work with,” said Bulani. “So, I invited a few of our staff to join me tonight and join in the celebration, because I feel it’s their award, too.”
He recognized Chris Adair, head of Racketeer Bulk Glyphosate and petroleum, Ray Simpson, manager of their Rosetown location, and Lynn Strate, head of acquisitions, all of whom have been with the company over 20 years.
Bulani also thanked his wife, Lynda, and three daughters, Chelsea, Cassandra and Coralee, who are all part of a succession plan for Rack Petroleum.
Bulani ended his speech with wisdom from writers Kristian Halvorsen and Bernard Clive Kelvin, respectively, and his commentary.
“‘Quality and relevant content cannot and will not be dictated by algorithms. Quality and content will come from human beings,’” he said. “Sometimes, technology overwhelms us. But I truly believe that it’s human beings that will control the algorithms, not the other way around.
“But remember, for everybody in retail, ‘The future is not about startups, it’s about stayups – and there’s a big difference. Anyone can start up. But it takes those who can stand the test of time to stay relevant.’ And ag retail will stay relevant, come hell or high water.”
Submit your nominations for the 2021 CAAR's Choice Awards today! Click here to download the nomination forms.
CAAR is accepting nominations for the following awards: 4R Nutrient Stewardship Agri-Retailer, Agronomist of the Year, Retailer of the Year and Retailer Hall of Fame.
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