Independent crop input dealers form support group

Eleven independent crop supply dealerships across the Prairies are pooling their resources for work such as product research and employee development.

Launched itself publicly last week with a promotional campaign, the group, dubbed the Grow Community of Independents, said it “formed out of a need for the independent retailers to be strengthened as the most important support structure for high-yielding crop production.”

The group also cited its members’ “deep dedication to individual farm businesses and rural communities.”

“Our customers tell us quite regularly that they wouldn’t stay farming if it wasn’t for independents; they’re just not interested in dealing with some huge corporate entity that doesn’t even understand them, let alone know who they are,” said Kevin Blair, CEO of Blair’s Fertilizer at Lanigan, Sask., one of seven founding companies in the Grow Community, in a release.

The group said it plans to create a “standard of service” for its members and is “committed to increasing overall crop production field by field, grower by grower across Western Canada.”

To that end, the Grow Community said it has set up Grow Total Acre, a product development initiative “to ensure the products we recommend suit the conditions and situations in our specific trading areas.”

The group also expects to operate “What’s Possible” demonstration sites where it will stage annual events for producers and industry “to be able to see the products and what we add to them, in action.”

As well, it has set up a professional development program, Grow Academy, with which it plans to “provide the highest level of agronomic education” for member dealers’ employees.

Managing the group’s joint operations is Greg McDonald, who has been building the partnership’s framework since February, including its product supplier strategy, brand and positioning, marketing and dealership staff development.

McDonald last week officially announced the hiring of Layne Erickson as the group’s director of business agronomy, tasked with developing the Grow Academy and Grow Total Acre programs since starting work in July. Both managers are based in Saskatoon.

The group’s seven founders alone operate in 62 locations across the Prairies, including:

  • Blair’s Fertilizer, operating at Lanigan and in four other eastern Saskatchewan communities;
  • Andrukow Group Solutions of Camrose, Alta., operating at eight communities in the province’s northeast and in partnership with other independents including Providence Grain, Agro Guys, Edberg Crop Management, Webb’s, Flatlander, VIP and Sturgeon Valley Fertilizer;
  • Double Diamond Farm Supply of Elgin, Man., with five sites in western Manitoba;
  • G-Mac’s Ag Team of Kindersley, Sask., with five sites in west-central Saskatchewan;
  • North Star Fertilizers of Prairie River, Sask., with four sites in the province’s northeast;
  • Shur-Gro Farm Services/Munro Farm Supplies of Brandon, Man., with 11 branches across the province from Waskada to Elie; and
  • Wendland Ag Services of Waldheim, Sask., operating in six communities from Saskatoon north.

The group on Sept. 8 also announced four additional partners in the Grow Community, including:

  • Cavalier Agrow of Meadow Lake, Sask., with four sites in the province’s northwest;
  • Weyburn Inland Terminal, a farmer-owned terminal and ag retail operation operating in three Saskatchewan communities;
  • G J Chemical Co., based at Arnaud, Man., with a second site at Altona, Man.; and
  • Parkland Fertilizers of Wetaskawin, Alta.

“We are delighted that all four of the dealers we approached have agreed to sign on,” McDonald said in a release.

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