Returning to My Agricultural Roots
In 1890, the Canadian Pacific Railway already extended across Canada from coast-to-coast. It was beginning to branch out with lines connecting major Canadian trading hubs, like tree roots through the soil. The railway was built north of Calgary, in what was known then as the sixth siding (sixth stop). It is now my hometown – Olds, Alberta, Canada, named after English-born George Olds, a worker who dedicated his life to working on the railways.
What began as a tiny settlement along the railway has today become a community shaped and supported by the agriculture industry. The Olds landscape is dominated by prairie grain fields, agri-retailers and large grain elevators – most of them are decades old and are weathered; some are modern state-of-the-art, shiny and new. To the west, the mighty Canadian Rocky Mountains with their snow-covered peaks can just be seen above the vast canola fields’ yellow flowers, which grow so thick and tall they can almost seem to touch the sky.
Growing up in this small, quiet town with a population of a few thousand, I got to know most people quite well; I know their families and what they do for work. I built lifelong relationships and truly cared for my neighbors. In fact, my first job was driving a variety of farming equipment to help my neighbors on their family farm to cut hay, bail and harvest, depending on the time of year.
My community is built around agriculture, and so is my family. You could say it’s in my blood. My father teaches agriculture at the local college, and two of my uncles are second-generation dairy farmers that also grow corn and soybeans. I grew up around the farm and agriculture.
When I finished high school, I left Olds to pursue a commerce degree, and I majored in marketing. I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do after school, but I knew there was a good chance of being in the agriculture industry in some capacity, so I took some agronomy courses to get a better understanding of the science behind the farming industry. Despite what I already knew about agriculture, and what I had already learned in school, these agronomy courses taught me that the industry is always evolving, based on new best practices and science. In agriculture, there is constant learning.
After university, I began selling commercial printers. It was a great job fresh out of university to get some practical work experience, but I knew it wasn’t the right fit for me long-term. A few years later, those agronomy courses paid off. I got into the agriculture industry working for a retailer selling crop inputs and providing agronomic advice to growers.
When an opportunity presented itself to join Bayer’s Crop Science division as a Territory Sales Manager, I knew this would be a great chance to work for a highly respected company. I had become very comfortable over the past four years selling Bayer’s full suite of seed and crop protection products at the retail level. I accepted the job and spent the next two years working in Red Deer, Alberta, providing Bayer solutions to meet the needs of growers and retailers in the area. Then, a sales position opened up in my hometown of Olds. I was fortunate enough to be able to transfer back to the community where my love of agriculture first began.
I already had very good relationships with many of the local farmers and retailers on a personal level, but being their Bayer rep strengthened those bonds because of the positive experience they’ve had with the Bayer brand. So for me, it was an easy transition personally and professionally.
In Olds, there is a very diverse range of customers. Farms vary from small to large, progressive and traditional. They can be anywhere from 500 to over 10,000 acres (about 200 to over 4,000 hectares), and they all have very different needs. Some have professional agronomists on staff, some rely on the local retail outlets, and some rely on me to help stage their fields to let them know what products to use and when to use them. The retailers also vary, from local, independently owned to large commercial operations. It’s one of the reasons I love working in my territory; everyone has such unique needs that a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work here.
While I was working in Red Deer, Bayer was ranked first overall in customer support and trustworthiness. It’s something I am very proud of, and I strive to bring that same customer support to my new territory in Olds. I love being the sales rep in my hometown because I’m helping my friends and neighbors solve their challenges by providing innovative, tailored solutions, like using Bayer’s digital zone spray technology to protect crops and increase efficiencies. It’s the appreciation from my customers that motivates me on a daily basis.
I recognize how fortunate I am to be working in the two areas I love: agriculture and my hometown. You could say I’ve been able to return to my agricultural roots, and it’s something I’m thankful for every day.