Independent ag retailers team up for group buying


Over a dozen “indie” farm input retailers on the Prairies plan to centralize their purchasing using a model developed by Australians in the same line of work.

The group of 14 independent Prairie ag input dealers on Sept. 15 announced a new organization, AgLink Canada, a buying group formed “in response to the growing global consolidation of agricultural input suppliers.”

The Canadians’ model will follow that of AgLink, a buying group set up in 1986 under the name IHD (Independent Horticultural Distributors) which now includes 16 crop input and farm supply retailers in Australia.

The Canadian group’s model will replicate the Australians’ to the point of hiring Bill Dowdle, the Australian group’s CEO for the past 11 1/2 years. The Australians have launched a search for a new CEO.

“We believe the Canadian opportunity presents Bill a new and exciting challenge that we expect will benefit us all — Bill, the Canadians and AgLink’s members,” AgLink’s chairman Andrew Maughan said in a release in July, announcing the Australian company’s agreement in principle with the Canadian group.

By moving to Canada and taking on the chief executive role with the Canadian group, Dowdle said he also sees “significant potential to take the level of engagement with global suppliers to a higher level, adding value to all in the independent space, including AgLink members.”

As per their finalized agreement with the Australian company, AgLink Canada’s 14 members also get “immediate access to all intellectual property, management systems, governance models and related know-how as part of this alliance.”

AgLink Canada’s Prairie retailers come to the joint table with over $1 billion in combined annual sales. Its Saskatchewan members include The Rack Petroleum of Biggar, Aylsham Agro of Aylsham, Emerge Ag Solutions of Eston, Agri Team Services of Glaslyn, Orchard Transport of Delisle, Veikle Agro of Cut Knife and Clearview Agro of Foam Lake.

Alberta members include McEwens Fuels and Fertilizers of Fort Saskatchewan, Agro Plus Solutions of Dunmore and Agro Plus of Lethbridge. Manitoba members include Redfern Farm Services of Brandon, Jackson Seeds of Inglis, Ag Advantage of Marquette and Jonair of Portage la Prairie.

Dennis Belani, CEO of The Rack, will be AgLink Canada’s first chairman.

In a release, the leaders of the Canadian group said they have “looked globally for successful membership models and quickly identified the AgLink Australia model as a leading global success story.”

AgLink, the name adopted by the IHD group in 2012, “has mastered the elusive organizational and management formula which forges the unmatched value of local entrepreneurial spirit with the power of scale,” the Canadians said. — Network

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