Ag entrepreneur to receive honourary diploma

After 50 years in business, most people have had enough.

Not Ron Helwer.

At 85 Helwer can’t wait to get to the office in the morning, to start work at Shur-Gro Farm Services in Brandon.

“Friends say, ‘You should be retired.’ I say, ‘Well, what’s retirement?’ They say, ‘Doing what you want to do.’ I say, ‘That’s what I’m doing.’ I enjoy what I’m doing and the people I work with,” Helwer said in a press release for Assiniboine Community College, located in Brandon.

On June 14 Assiniboine Community College will present Helwer with an honourary diploma in agribusiness, to recognize his five decades in the agricultural industry.

Helwer and his family own Shur-Gro, Munro Farm Supplies and have a majority ownership of South East Seeds. Helwer is president of all three companies.

“Ron Helwer has been in business for more than 50 years, providing an important service to the farming community and hundreds of high-skilled jobs, many of them filled by Assiniboine grads. We are delighted that Mr. Helwer has agreed to accept this honour,” said Assiniboine Community College president Mark Frison.

Helwer, who started Shur-Gro in 1968, is well known in Manitoba and within agribusiness across Western Canada.

In the late 70s he helped establish the Western Fertilizer and Chemical Dealers Association. He was also a champion of CAAR, the Canadian Association of Agri-Retailers, and is a member of the Manitoba Agricultural Hall of Fame.

This spring Larry Maguire, MP for Brandon-Souris, spoke about Helwer in the House of Commons.

“You would be hard pressed to find a farmer that has not dealt with Shur-Gro or one of its partners,” Maguire said. “I cannot say enough about Ron’s commitment to farming, to his customers and his community.”

During his June 14 speech to Assiniboine Community College graduates, Helwer will focus on the future, not the past.

“It would be nice if you could get to a level in business where you say, ‘I’m going to stay at that level.’ But that doesn’t happen in business. My theory is, if we’re not going ahead, we’re going back. So we need to progress. We need to be forward-thinking and looking for opportunities.”

Previous recipients of honourary diplomas from Assiniboine Community College include Phil Fontaine, former national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, and Jim Treliving, chairman and owner of Boston Pizza.

Contact robert.arnason@producer.com

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