The Chairman's Award

What do you get when you mix a lifelong career in agriculture, a strong sense of community and an enthusiastic, infectiously positive personality?

Some might say you’ve got the ideal agri-retail job candidate. Others would claim you’ll have an influential CAAR member. A few might even guess that you’ve got the winner of the 2016 Chairman’s Award.

All of the above would be correct, and they would also be Al Raine – assistant vice-president, crop inputs marketing for Richardson International.

“I’ve been involved with, and supported, CAAR for pretty much my entire career,” says Raine, when asked why he was chosen for this year’s Chairman’s Award. Unlike the other CAAR’s Choice Awards, the Chairman’s is specially chosen by the CAAR Board Chair to honour a member who has shown exceptional dedication to the association and the success of various CAAR initiatives.

“Lately, I’ve been very supportive both financially and vocally of the Operation Ag Careers program,” he says, referring to CAAR’s new employment program, of which Richardson is a founding partner. “I think they felt that I was fairly instrumental in helping to get it started, along with some other organizations (other founding partners Parrish & Heimbecker and Federated Co-operatives Ltd).”

From the start, Raine believed Operation Ag Careers would bring many benefits for his own organization, the agri-retail community at large and Canada’s veteran military families. “I truly believe it will be successful,” he says. “It’s going to create a bigger talent pool of employees for agri-retails, and that’s good for all of us. If we have a better choice of quality candidates, we can all provide better service to our farming customers.”

The benefits Operation Ag Careers is expected to provide to the agri-retail sector align closely with Richardson’s mandate to contribute and give back to the communities it works in. “Richardson is really committed to re-investing in the ag industry,” Raine explains. “So we focus on balancing our customer needs with making a fair profit so that we can re-invest back into the various communities where we do business.”

“Our company is on a very significant growth curve,” he says. “We’ve acquired businesses, invested money back into communities we work in, and I’ve had feedback from farm customers in those communities, that we help to improve their businesses.”

As his organization – and its needs and internal capabilities – grew, Raine saw a shift in the relationship with CAAR, as well as a new opportunity for mutual benefit. “The relationship has changed a bit as we’ve become a larger organization: some of the training CAAR offers, we have started to do in-house because the size of our organization supports that,” he says. “But we appreciate the advocacy that CAAR does, such as on the ammonia code of practice.”

“However, the big benefit that we can see in working with CAAR is that (Operation Ag Careers) is going to help us increase the talent pool for our industry. That’s going to help everyone – not just Richardson. It’s for everybody.”

Raine says he looks forward to checking out CAAR’s new Retail AgriJobMatch website, and to see where the advocacy aspects of the program will go in the future. “I hope it takes off,” he says. “It’s such good news.”

As for his award, Raine plans to display it at his family cottage. “We already have a place picked out for it – it will be displayed proudly alongside a few fishing pictures,” he says. “It will have a very prominent place.”

For someone as excited to contribute to – and talk about – the success of Canadian agriculture as Raine, sharing this achievement amongst the other big trophies he’s landed seems very fitting.

Click here to go back to the 2016 CAAR's Choice Awards.

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