MK Agro Brings Home Top Prize in ADAMA’s Annual Contest.

Benji MacLean and Paul Kaminsky believe in supporting the community they live and work in. And, as they found out last year, when you support the community, the community will support you right back.

As owners of MK Agro, a retail serving the Brunkild, Man. area, MacLean and Kaminsky gave their community a huge boost of support – and spirit – when they took part in ADAMA’s 2018 Thank-A-Retailer competition.

At the outset of the contest, MacLean and Kaminsky pledged to donate their winnings to the newly-established Kelly Kabernick Foundation. It was an opportunity to do something good and, at the same time, honour the memory of their good friend, Kelly Kabernick. And it was a cause that they knew everyone in the community would get behind.

Honouring a Friend

In October of 2017, Kabernick, a local grain farmer from the Brunkild area and father of five was killed in an early-morning, single-vehicle accident. Kabernick, or “Kabby” to his friends, was well-known throughout the community and, at the time of his death, was the coach of the high-school girls hockey team, the Sanford Sabres.

The phenomenal response to MK Agro’s entry far exceeded the limits of their small town. Once word got out about the contest, it spread quickly across Manitoba and even outside the province, thanks to customers, friends, family, community members and those who knew Kabernick.

“Everyone just got together and started pulling the rope in the same direction,” said MacLean. “Friends and family that have moved away continued to vote, as they knew Kabby and the work he did throughout his life for the community.”

MacLean says the regional round was a tight race, but the overwhelming amount of support they received helped the team pull ahead at the end. When the votes were tallied, MK Agro had close to 30,000 votes – enough to put them in first place and score them the $15,000 prize.

After winning the regionals, MacLean and Kaminsky decided to “blow it up” for the national round and surprised their supporters by pledging to throw in an extra dollar for every vote they received.

“I was actually shocked. They committed a lot of their own money by doing that,” says Trevor Richardson, president of the Sanford Recreation Centre. “I think they were going to get the votes anyway, but that sure heightened people’s attention; making sure they were voting every day and telling their friends and neighbours to vote, too.”

I was actually shocked. They committed a lot of their own money.
Trevor Richardson

Winning the national round of the contest earned the team another $15,000, to which they added $20,000 of their own money for a grand total of $50,000. It was an exciting moment for the MK Agro team and their supporters, and Kaminsky says it was humbling to receive so many votes and to see their supporters pull together for the betterment of the community.

Richardson echoes Kaminsky’s statement, saying the contest couldn’t have come at a better time to help the community heal. “We needed something at that time. The loss of Kabby was a huge blow to everybody. This got people excited and it was for the right reasons,” he says.

Supporting the Community

MK Agro’s win will leave a lasting impression on the community for years to come. As promised, funds from the win were donated to the Kelly Kabernick Foundation and will be distributed by Kabernick’s wife Christine, who manages the foundation.

A portion of the of the money has been earmarked for the Kelly Kabernick Girls High School Hockey Memorial Scholarship, to be awarded to a Sabres player who demonstrates both exemplary leadership and community involvement.

The remaining funds will go towards improvements at the Sanford Arena, where Kabernick coached and where his children play hockey. According to Richardson, the biggest need at the arena right now is dressing rooms, so funds will be put towards renovating the existing dressing rooms and construction of new women’s facilities.

Richardson says the new women’s dressing rooms, complete with their own washrooms and showers, will be a welcome addition, as girl’s hockey is becoming increasingly popular in the area and the arena currently does not have dedicated changing and shower facilities for female players.

The renovations will be completed by 2020 and are expected to cost $500-600,000. Richardson says the contribution from the MK Agro team is a “great jump-starter” for the project and is indicative of the community support that they are known for.

“Whether it’s providing silent auction items or pitching in at community events, like the annual bonspiel, the guys are always willing to give. They’re always willing to come out and help,” says Richardson.

Choosing causes and organizations that are near and dear to their heart, the MK Agro team has thrown their support behind STARS Air Ambulance, the Brunkild and Starbuck Recreation Centres, Curl for Cancer, the Carmen Library, the Dufferin Ag Society and both the Red River Valley and Prairie Rose School Divisions.

Both MacLean and Kaminsky, who founded MK Agro in 2010, say that supporting the rural communities they live and work in is especially important to them because it helps keep the communities vital.

“A lot of the small communities are going away," says MacLean. “Anything we can do to help keep the buildings in check or keep the spirit alive in the communities is a good thing.”

Congratulations to all CAAR members nominated for Thank-A-Retailer 2019. Click here for contest updates.

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