Daren Carlson, P.Ag is the Vice President, Sales and Marketing with McEwen’s Fuels & Fertilizers at the Willow Springs head office in Sturgeon County, Alberta. Prior to that, he was retired. Rather than have you believe he is living his life in reverse, the affable Carlson is on his second lifetime in the ag industry he just can’t seem to get enough of. And should it ever arise, if offered a martini cocktail he probably prefers it “Shaken, not stirred.”
Q: What is your current role in the ag retail sector?
Daren Carlson: My work today generally revolves around working with our supplier partners and our own sales team in executing our sales strategy. It’s very rewarding working with our partners and the McEwen’s team with a common goal of meeting our grower customer needs. These days, one definitely needs trusted partners.
Q: Can you describe your ag retail journey?
Daren: I grew up on a farm in central Alberta, just south of Camrose and got my Ag degree in 1984 from the University of Alberta. For all you young, aspiring students: I worked for three summers in the ag industry with Monsanto prior to graduating, and then started with them full time in 1985. I spent my whole career with Monsanto, with 10 years in Grande Prairie and then moving to Sherwood Park in 1995.
I worked as a sales rep during that time, until moving into a managerial role in 2012 where I managed the business for Monsanto in Alberta. I did spend a brief, but exciting time in the wheat business, but for the most part was working with growers helping to promote and adopt new technologies like direct seeding, Herbicide Tolerant Canola and Preharvest Roundup.
It’s hard to believe that these technologies were not always with us, but there was a time when these were all new. I spent another two years with Bayer prior to retiring in early 2020. Shortly after, I unretired and joined the McEwen’s team, whom I had known as customers for 25 years.
Q: Retired… and then retired from retiring? Besides unretiring, what do you like to do in your free time?
Daren: One of my passions has always been hockey. I played growing up, and to this day still enjoy playing. Like most hockey players, I also love a good round of golf, and during our brief summers our family enjoys boating, hiking and being outdoors.
We still have the farm down south of Camrose and I enjoy getting back there and spending as much time as I can there. Nothing like the summer and fall seasons on the farm.
We also enjoy travelling and hope to do a lot more in the years to come. On the lighter side, I enjoy cards and am a big fan of the latest version of James Bond!
Carlson. Daren Carlson, are there any parallels between your free time activities and your day job?
Daren: When you enjoy what you’re doing, there can be a lot of parallels between work and free time activities. It’s not that work doesn’t have its challenging days—we all have that. But working in ag, I have come to realize just how critical innovation and commitment to agriculture is within our world today.
So, whether it’s working to help meet growers’ needs, spending time on the farm or playing hockey, I am blessed to be able to enjoy it all.
Q: Why do you enjoy working in the agriculture sector? Daren: There are a lot of things in this world trying to divide us these days, but I believe the ag sector is a refreshing and unique place that can help bring real solutions to our world. A huge part of the ag sector’s success has been the people—real people with real integrity that make the industry a pleasure to work in.
When you pair good people with strong innovation it makes a difference. If we look at how our industry has changed in the past 30 years, it’s truly amazing. We are feeding more people on less land, and doing it in a more environmentally-friendly way than ever before. We have an amazing story to tell in agriculture, but we just need to get that message out, which is an ongoing battle and will be, going forward.
Q: If you could change one thing about the agriculture sector in Canada, what would it be?
Daren: That we would have better dialogue and understanding with our urban friends and neighbours. And, that we in the ag sector would know how to best communicate the wonderful story of modern agriculture.
Q: What is your role at CAAR?
Daren: I’m fairly new to CAAR, but I am enjoying working with the organizing committee to help provide direction to the CAAR convention.
Q: Why did you join the CAAR Committee, and how do you apply your industry experience to the board?
Daren: I have a passion to see the ag sector succeed and make a difference. Working on the retail side of the industry now, CAAR seemed like a natural opportunity. I spent years on the innovation side working with stakeholders to help bring technology to life for growers. Hopefully, in this new position I can play a role in continuing that trend.
Q: What role do you see CAAR playing in the agriculture industry moving forward?
Daren: Ag retail is critical to success in agriculture. It’s the critical link between suppliers who bring us products and innovation and our grower customers who depend on them. And at the same time, we need to navigate the political landscape and help bring trust and understanding to politicians and consumers. It’s a tall order, but we really don’t have a choice. We need to be smart, courageous and understand where CAAR can play a role.
Daren Carlson returns in 2022 in, “Never Say Retirement Again”.
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