CAAR's Choice Retailer Hall of Fame
What is the secret to a long, productive career in agriculture that spans decades and fosters loyalty and lifelong friendships?
How do you manage to cap off your legacy amid a standing ovation of admiring peers and partners?
If you ask Dave Wendland of Wendland Ag, you may not get the answer you seek.
“I’m quite honoured that my peers would choose me. I think there’s better dealers out there,” says Wendland.
Despite his humility, Wendland gracefully accepted the accolades of the agri-retail community when he took the stage at the 2016 CAAR Conference to be inducted into CAAR’s Agri-Retail Hall of Fame. Present among the attendees at the awards banquet were his dedicated staff, who likely clapped the loudest during the emotional sendoff.
Wendland, who is planning to retire and close up shop this year after 40 years in the industry, didn’t use his time at the podium to reflect on his own achievements. He seized the opportunity to speak about the benefits of CAAR membership, and why the agri-retail community should come together to help and support one another.
“Go down the street, and invite your neighbour to join CAAR,” he said during his speech. “The more people get involved, the better it is for everyone.”
That’s a great example of Wendland’s nature, and likely one of the reasons he stood out in other CAAR members’ minds as a deserving recipient of this honour. Over the years, he has built a reputation in the industry based on great customer service and honest hard work.
“Customer service is about meeting customers’ needs on an individual basis,” he says. “It’s making sure that we treat people fairly, provide them with the service and the product they need to be able to farm, and always remember that we are a part of their farm. We’re happy as a company when we see our customers successful.”
One of Wendland’s priorities in providing great service is through staff training, and ensuring that his staff have access to quality, up-to-date training resources.
“Education for our employees and staff is a must to keep up with the never-ending challenges and changes in the industry,” he says. “Some of the resources CAAR has provided have been good, and some of our suppliers also put on excellent workshops. When your staff attend these workshops, they’re able to gain more knowledge, and they enjoy their work more in doing so.”
Wendland is a firm believer in the value of lifelong education, especially in an industry as given to rapid advancements as agri-retail. “In this industry, there’s always the opportunity to learn something new,” he says. “If you think you know everything, take another look around, because someone is already doing something differently.”
That’s another area where Wendland has seen CAAR membership to be an asset. Networking events and the opportunity to connect with other agri-retailers helped him shape his business and keep abreast of changes in the industry.
“For me, especially in the early years, networking amongst businesses was very important,” he says. “It’s important to keep in touch and know what’s going on. Events like the CAAR Conference are a great way for dealers to network with their peers.”
After such a long and fulfilling engagement in the agri-retail world, what’s next for Wendland? He isn’t sure what his next business venture will be, beyond working on his family hobby farm.
But Dave Wendland does have one specific plan for the near future – one that perfectly encapsulates the spirit with which he worked and thrived amongst so many friends for so many decades.
“When I build my new office, I’ll put my Agri-Retailer Hall of Fame plaque up on the wall behind my desk,” he says.
“That’s for all the great dealers, suppliers and everybody else in this industry that I’ve known over so many years. That’s what this award is all about.”
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