Live so that when your children think of fairness 

and integrity they think of you. 

- H. Jackson Jr.

A KERNAL

OF WISDOM

Chapter 20:

The Need For Agronomists

I do not have an agriculture degree. I do have practical experience and have taken a few courses, but most of what I know about farming, I learned from our customers. While I was still a rep in the mid-'70s, Sherritt took us to visit a large fertilizer dealership called McGregor's near Spokane. They also built the McGregor NH3 slide-ons and applicators that we bought over the years. But the two main things I remember are that, one, he had a large bowl of cherries on his desk that we really enjoyed. Second, he took me to meet some of his staff. There were about six offices, and he introduced me to each man. After, I asked him what they did. He replied that they were all agronomists and each one looked after 40 to 50 growers.

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The first few years at the St. Albert plant, we didn't have an agronomist. Then one day, Kent Lamoureux came in to pick up a load of fertilizer for his dad and brother Dave. He asked if I had an agronomist on I staff. I said no. So he told me that he was an agronomist and he was available. I told him Doug and I had been thinking about it but hadn't decided. A few days later, Kent came in and asked if we had hired an agronomist yet. When I said no, he told us we needed one and he was still available. I told him we were still thinking about it. Well, Monday morning Kent walked in at 8 a.m. with his lunch and announced he was there to work for us... and he is still here. That was in 1989, and in the many years since, I continued to tease him that we hadn't actually hired him yet. July 20, 2014, was Kent's 25th anniversary with SVF, so I made up an official-looking certificate recognizing him for completing 25 years' probation and being officially hired on full time. 

 

When Kent was offering his services, my thoughts went back to what I saw at McGregor's. As our company has grown, we've had to hire agronomists to work with our customers. We are different from most dealers because our agronomists are not paid commission on sales. There is no incentive for them to recommend more than what is needed or more expensive products. I think the customers like that because they know they can trust that the agronomists' opinions are not compromised. 

 

Roger Barron joined our agronomy staff and has become our lead agronomist. This will help make our agricultural efforts more coordinated and efficient. Kevin Speer gives us strength at the counter and also has inventory-control responsibilities. Taylor Bokenfohr has been a summer student for the past two years. Cory Laird joined the agronomist team full time in the spring of 2013. Cory worked part time for five years while he got his bachelor of commerce degree and his agriculture diploma. It is special for me to have my grandson interested in the family business.

Mark Gjesdal joined the agronomist team in 2014. Mark has a good farm background. Dillis (Soetaert) Pelletier also joined in 2014 on a part-time basis. Dillis has a wealth of knowledge and experience. The Legal plant also has a strong team of agronomists. Tom Carleton has been with us since 1997, and Russell Benson, now assistant manager, joined us in 2008. Wayne Thomas retired in 2012 after several years of competent service. Khaled Bari joined the agronomist staff in 2014, and Wade Dunham in May 2014. Wade brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in research.

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A LITTLE HUMOUR

An older couple were living in an old two-story house with a narrow, winding stairway. They were not getting along that well, and he, in particular, had become very grumpy and hard to please. But every afternoon, he would go upstairs for a nap, which was a nice break for her. When she called him down for supper one day, he didn't respond, so she called the medics. As they came down the narrow stairs and maneuvered around a corner, the stretcher hit the wall. The man slid forward and hit the wall, and the bump brought him back to life. About a year later, he again was having his nap and didn't respond to her call, so she called the medics again. As they came down the stairs and approached the sharp corner, she called out: "Be careful on the corner! Last year we had a bad accident there.”