No one has a greater asset for his business than a

man's pride in his work.

- Hosea Ballou

A KERNAL

OF WISDOM

Chapter 23:

Competent Office Staff Started With Merelyn and Pat

We still, to this day, have customers comment on how pleasant and accommodating Merelyn was as the dispatcher of NH3 applicator, NH3 delivery trucks and dry spreaders. Pat did the accounting, including payroll, accounts payable and accounts receivable. Pat and Merelyn both served at the counter. As business grew, we finally had to get Pat some help. The idea didn't go down too well, but she soon learned to appreciate the assistance. We had a few people that didn't work out, including one young lady who was very forward and outgoing. The word was that Larry was afraid to come out of his office (ha, ha). Then we hired Connie Maurier. She was very competent and had a great rapport with the customers. When I knew she was leaving to help her husband in his business, I asked the new manager of CIBC if he knew a good secretary and accounting person who would be interested in working for SVF. He said he had someone in mind and told me he'd tell her to call. She did, and guess what? It was his wife, Alexis Laing. She was excellent and worked with us for 27 years before retiring in 2011. 

SVF History 089.jpg
SVF History 089.jpg

A few years after Alexis started, more help was needed. A bright young lady who was sick of working at the bank became available. We hired Diane Anderson. She was my son Ron's sister-in-law. Diane has been with us since 1995. Rarely can you find such an incredible person with such great people skills. Diane has integrity and really does care. As a bonus, she is also smart and competent in accounting. One day a customer came to see me about a small complaint. I said, "No problem, just mention it to Diane and she will correct it." "Oh," he said, "I couldn't tell Diane I was unhappy. It would break her heart." Needless to say, the staff and all the customers just love her.

 

After Alexis retired, we hired Jessica Verbeek. She has an agriculture diploma and excellent people and organizing skills. In the background, we have Angela Stetson, a chartered accountant who has worked part time for SVF since 1995. Angela really keeps us on the straight and narrow when it comes to proper accounting procedure. 

 

In 2000, our son Doug took over as general manager of SVF. His main responsibility has been sourcing and buying product. This is a much harder job now than it was when I did it. Now there is very little competition between manufacturers. Agrium bought out just about everyone. So you buy what you want, when you want, pay what they want and take it to your plant and store it. There are no guarantees. If the price drops in the spring, like it did in 2008, we just have to eat it. Needless to say, this adds a lot of responsibility and stress. With today's communication technology, Doug works a lot of hours even when he may not be at the plant. Purchasing is a year-round job. You have to know what's happening locally and around the world and know when to pull the trigger. For our customers, it's hard to know when to sell, but for us, it's hard to know when to buy.

 

Andre Montpetit is the manager of the St. Albert plant. Cory Laird is the assistant general manager. Diane Anderson, an absolutely awesome lady, is the office manager. At the present time, we have an unbelievably committed staff at both plants. Our good fortune is also evident at Legal. Eric Cyr, manager of the Legal plant, and Russell Benson, his assistant manager, are doing a great job. Doris Clack and Henriette Borduzak, sisters, are an incredible team. They have been with us since the early 2000s. Doris is manager of plant accounting and production. She handles all the shipping and paperwork from our mini-bulk and bagging business. Henriette is the office manager and serves customers at the counter. Having such great people in place is a strong reminder that a company is only as good as the people who work for it.

Shawn Holladay is the manager of the custom bagging plant. We custom bag and minibulk fertilizer and ammonium nitrate. It is shipped north to diamond mines for explosives. Ice melt has also become a major contract, with over 5,000 tonnes per year and growing. Over the years, we have had many very good and dedicated employees, several of whom have stayed long term. It is not uncommon for our customers to say, "I don't know how you guys get and keep such good people." Well, good and loyal customers allow us to be able to keep good staff. Currently SVF has 45 year-round employees between the St. Albert and Legal plants.