Value of the independent
Reports of our death have been greatly exaggerated.
Independent ag retailers have never been healthier, more vibrant or more valuable to growers than right now. The predictive demise, as stated in your “Agrium expands retail network” article by Agrium chief financial officer Steve Douglas, is as accurate and insightful as those who predicted the end of newspapers by the year 2000. And yet, here we are, writing letters to newspaper editors. Why? Because relevance survives through adaptation.
Today’s independent retailer recognized the changes in agriculture years ago and began an entrenchment evolution focused on harmonizing both customer and community into an indispensably deep value proposition. And in doing so, they have perfected a point of competitiveness that cannot be bought, merged or acquired by multinationals — a personal and meaningful investment in the communities they serve and the customers they work alongside, all the while looking to quash the much-touted advantages of scale and size.
Through connection and commonality, independents have shared and overcome the challenges they’ve faced, brought together their intellectual ability to solve problems using common sense and business fundamentals and built alliances so strategic that in today’s market there is no knowledge unavailable to them, no technology beyond their reach, no efficiency of scale they cannot duplicate, no response they cannot accommodate, no connections, be it global or local, they cannot cultivate.
Collectively, western Canadian independent ag retailers are a powerhouse of prosperity, billing in excess of $1 billion per annum and edging the market share needle in their direction more and more. But their relevance doesn’t reside on a balance sheet; it resides on having their name on the side of their trucks, signing the front of cheques and the pride that comes from turning risk into reward — just like their customers do.
Neil Douglas , vice-president, agriculture, Univar Canada Ltd.