Live so that when your children think of fairness 

and integrity they think of you. 

- H. Jackson Jr.

A KERNAL

OF WISDOM

Chapter 19:

Customer Appreciation

The first customer appreciation events that come to mind are the great times we had at the Red Barn. The ladies got a corsage, and everyone had a great meal. The program was agriculture-related, and included Don Bousquet. Then we'd have a motivational speaker, and over the years, we had some good ones, including Baxter Black. For those who liked to dance, the Soetaerts' and Mahes' bands provided music until 1 or 2 a.m. With the SVF staff, industry reps and customers, over 400 were present. Those were very special times for me. felt like we were just one big family that appreciated each other. We did the Red Barn every other year for several years.

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LARRY'S SONG

Performed at the Red Barn by The Mahe Family Band (Good Times Band).

Words written by Colleen Mahe; sung and played to the tune of "The Beverly Hillbillies."

 

Well, come and listen to my story

'bout a man named Laird.

He was really poor and

was gettin' kinda scared.

So then one day,

Well, he set up this shop,

to help all the farmers

grow some bumper crops.

 

Well, the first thing you know,

ol' Larry's growing fast.

He expanded to Legal,

and that took off with a blast.

They say Bob Black is

The guy there you gotta see,

and together they are making

one big happy company.

(Fertilizer, that is. Lots of equipment.

And chemicals!)

 

Well, we'd like to thank you folks

for kindly listenin'.

We hope you had some fun

with Larry and all his kin.

You're all invited over now

to these localities to

have a heapin' helpin' of their hospitality.

(Sturgeon Valley Fertilizers. That's what

you call 'em. Nice folks!)

 

You all come see 'em now, ya hear!

When it was time for a change, we booked Stage West at the Mayfield Inn. Normally there was no performance on Monday nights, so by special arrangement, SVF booked the whole place, about 380 seats. That wouldn't accommodate all our customers, so we also booked 200 seats for the Sunday afternoon show. These events provided good food and entertainment but not the opportunity to visit like at the Red Barn. We have changed again and now we do snowmobile and fishing trips and family ski days at Jasper, which I think are good. But I would like to see us do something like the Red Barn again. I guess the main thing is to always let our customers know how much we really do appreciate them. 

I do recall one customer meeting that did not go too well. It was in the mid-'80s. Our soil sampling program revealed that we had some areas with low-pH soils, so the solution was about two tonnes of lime per acre. At the time, the government had a program in which they would pay the freight from west of Calgary to the farm. So we bought a new lime spreader.

 

At our next farm information meeting, I invited Don England, the county agronomist, to speak about low-pH soils and the effectiveness of lime. Well, Don  got up and stated emphatically that there were few if any low-pH soils in our area and the effectiveness of lime was in question and the cost was too high to get any return on your investment. When I returned to the podium, I announced that we had a slightly used lime spreader for sale. Nevertheless, several fields over the years have been treated with lime, with remarkable results.

 

What about the ladies? Well, Doris Clack stepped up to the plate and reminded management that women play a big role in decisions made in their operations. It is time again to salute the important role and contribution that women are making in agriculture. With some help from other SVF ladies, Doris created "'Ladies' Day." The first one was on March 7, 2013, at the Sturgeon Valley Golf Course. The theme was "It's all about you."

 

Two workshops were presented, the first by coach Carmen Jubinville and the second by Margo Laberge. Both were informative and entertaining. The event's success led to the second Ladies' Day, March 14, 2014, with the theme "Food for the soul." First, Tracy Mulligan served a great buffet, then Dianna Siemens and Lorelei Boschman presented "The Big Cook." After lunch, the ladies were treated to a performance by Mary Kieftenbeld, an inspirational singer, songwriter and storyteller who does a mix of folk, gospel, country and easy listening. Then they were entertained by Zandra Bell, a.k.a. Shirley Best, a nationally acclaimed motivational humorist. Tears of laughter were streaming everywhere. The feedback from the ladies has been very positive. Thanks to Doris for creating Ladies' Day. It has SVF's full support to continue.

 

When Bob Black was manager, SVF sponsored a curling bonspiel. At the end, we had a big banquet and dance. Dancing has never been one of my strong suits, but it wasn't long before Pauline St. Denis had me up and making a spectacle of myself. At the end of the dance, several customers asked Pat if she was OK to drive me home. They thought I had too much to drink. Well, considering I don't drink, that only shows you what a fool I was making of myself. I did have a lot of fun, but did I ever pay for it the next day or two. I could hardly walk; stepping up and down stairs was sheer pain.

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