The Waskada & Area Chamber of Commerce held its annual supper and fundraiser in conjunction with the Municipality of Brenda-Waskada’s Volunteer Appreciation presentation on March 20 in the Lions Hall.
The tables were all decked out for spring with teal tablecloths and bright daffodils as centerpieces. Chamber president Scott Williams gave words of welcome and asked Glen Whetter to give the blessing over the meal. A delicious prime rib meal was prepared and served by The Evening Circle ladies group.
Following the meal the Volunteer Appreciation award was presented to Coral and Steve Meggison. Dave Stewart gave the introduction and Councillor Donna Stewart presented the award on behalf of the Municipality of Brenda-Waskada. (See article elsewhere in this issue).
Williams introduced guest speaker Craig Davidson – co-founder and president of Taurus Ag Marketing Inc. based out of Virden, Mb. “We’ve been helping growers since 2001 to figure out the whys behind the hows in agriculture — it is an innovative, leading edge approach, based on education, facts first business mindset. We work closely with Ag businesss, growers and consultants to maximize returns in a sustainable way— we are boots on the ground opposed to feet on the desk.”
Davidson learned early to “Work Hard — Stay Humble” as he grew up on a dairy farm near McAuley, MB. His business has given him opportunity for extensive world travel but he says it’s always nice to come home – the personalization of the home town touch and family connections. His experience growing up on the dairy farm taught him that in life it’s not given to you – you have to earn it. The ‘it’ in question could be anything from respect, money, success, trust and so on. Loading square bales before going to school was just one activity that drove home that motto “work hard- stay humble” and Davison still keeps that with him. He feels it has set him up to have a great life. As a natural introvert, he challenges himself every time he gives a talk. “Going out of your comfort zone usually goes hand-in-hand with opportunity. The basis of his talk that night was around building “Brand” into your life and business. There are constant opportunities to make your brand better – whether it is as simple as being a better friend. “Ultimately, every time you comment on facebook you are building a brand. There has never been a better opportunity to build branding with today’s technology and social avenues to reach a broader audience.”
Davidson says the challenge he’s had is moving from Humble to Proud – not in a conceited way, but in the way of today’s world – the opportunity to connect to a larger group of people – to make an impact on the world. It is hard to talk about yourself, but there’s never been a better opportunity.”
Agriculture is a humble industry and those involved love what they do – growing food to feed the world. Davidson suggests the industry should have a proud platform – get excited about what you do and the impact you are having.
“Taurus is a conduit for technology and sustainable production initiatives from all over the world that benefits Canadian growers. We are still growing and meeting people and have made lots of mistakes along the way. Mistakes are also opportunities. Fortunately we have enjoyed the same rate of growth as technology – we’ve been a part of it and it is really rewarding,” he added.
Davidson says for the most part growers have not been good at telling their stories. Farmers like to work for themselves and their family. They need the opportunity to tell their stories and Taurus wants to be that conduit – to grow great crops and have people be excited about it. Right now, Davidson suggest agriculture is fragmented. “There is a tremendous story if we’re prepared to tell it. It will allow producers to become more engaged. If we don’t tell our story it will be left up to perception, which may not be accurate.
A solid Brand approach can build TRUST – one of the fundamental pillars that can build more awareness. “Never before have people been more connected, yet further apart. People are yearning for connection,” said Davidson.
INTEGRITY is another pillar. It is the way you go about your life. Davdison says Taurus has never changed its approach in 20 years. Small town communities are built on integrity.
LOYALTY stands tall as a pillar. It is what everyone is trying to achieve, to get our relationships to this point is when success happens.
And the last pillar is HONESTY – without this, nothing else matters. Respect is earned, Honesty is appreciated, Trust is gained and Loyalty is returned.
One of the major challenges Ag faces today is a lack of skilled workers. “There is a shortage of qualified people to fill the work force. There are many unemployed people in our country — we need to make a connection with them, train them and hopefully make agriculture a lifelong career destination.”
“You have to start with a purpose – this is significant component to forming relationships and enjoying life. In the brand called “you” you can’t move up if you don’t stand up.
“Taurus works at humanizing our connections, to personalize our business through videos or putting a face to the company. The personal touch is important. We are building new customers and new customer trust with people we have never met, yet when we do finally meet them, they talk to us like they’ve known us 15 years because of the way we portray ourselves and the approach we have taken to educate in an outbound way.”
Interestingly, when you look at educating outbound through social platforms, Taurus is finding their website traffic is a higher percentage of city dwelling female population between 25-45. Why? Because they are concerned about food, about where it is coming from, how it is grown, what’s being put into it. Consumers do care more than ever about what they eat or what they are feeding their kids and if they don’t like it or perceive it to be unhealthy, they don’t stop there. They go to social media and tell everyone. This is why growers need to stand up and tell their positive stories on great food they are producing. Otherwise perception takes over on the other end.
Getting the word out is important and strategic partnerships is the most effective way through collaboration. “It is a different thought process for most producers, as they are used to being independent and just going about their way — we are suggesting and encouraging they be proud of what they are doing and talk about it. Happy customers are informed and passionate about information. For example, the Food Network is one of the most popular on TV. People want to know all about their food, kids even look at labels these days. So, here is the perfect opportunity to focus on growing nutritious food to the world. We are essentially exporters as we can’t consume all we produce. People are excited but also concerned about food – tell them all about the food you grow, don’t let them assume.
“Taurus wants to tell the story of how you grow the food and want to help growers with sustainable products and technologies that will have consumer enjoyed stories! Start building your brand. Believe in you, believe in your impact on the world. Tell your story. Form partnerships, Connect with Consumers and your brand will happen,” concluded Davidson.