Agro Guys Inc.
In 2004, Blaine Welsh cofounded Agro Guys Inc. in Galahad, Alberta. A locally-owned and operated business, Agro Guys is an independent agricultural-retail outlet currently serving the Flagstaff farming community. The company began in a rented service station and was built from the ground up.
As business expanded, Agro Guys grew out of the Galahad location and in 2009, the decision was made to move the operation to its current location in Forestburg, Alberta. “We moved to this location to facilitate the need to expand our facility,” explains Welsh. “We have a fertilizer handling system here, a bigger warehouse and office.”
Welsh has been in the agro industry for 28 years. He moved to Galahad in 1995 with Alberta Wheat Pool, one of Canada’s first farmer co-ops. When larger corporations began entering the marketplace, many of the farm supply outlets were bought and consolidated. Welsh says that most of the customers were very community-oriented and did not care for the changes they were witnessing.
As grain companies began to consolidate facilities, many small towns started to see their local grain elevators disappear. “Customers were not happy to see companies get rid of their elevators,” says Welsh. “When that happened, farmers started approaching me and suggesting that I start something because they were looking for an alternative. I had a personal connection with the customers and was familiar with their operation, so in 2004 Agro Guys Inc. was founded.
Bigger is not always better
While many companies in the industry feel the need to build large facilities, Welsh says that Agro Guys has succeeded in maintaining a less-expansive, tight-knit community with its clients. Due to the company’s experience in the industry, they were aware of the customers’ needs and knew the size of the operation required to supply those products and services.
“When the decision was made to go out on our own we knew the customers and their operations,” says Welsh. “With that knowledge we could build the company based on their needs. We didn’t invest in equipment or products that are not common with the farming practices in our area.”
Agro Guys has remained a leader in the agricultural-retail industry. Welsh attributes the strength of the company to his employees. The knowledge and experience that his staff possesses, along with exceptional customer service, is the reason the company is able to compete with larger conglomerates. “Most of our staff has been in the area and in the industry for many years,” says Welsh. “We know the hours the farmers have to work so we work the same hours. In the spring if they’re working seven days a week, then we’re working seven days a week.”
Agro Guys retains a strong customer base. Welsh feels that the flexibility of the company is an asset that contributes to the loyalty of its clients. Also, the ability to adapt quickly to sudden changes within the industry is a strong point that separates Agro Guys from the larger competitors.
“We are willing to work with and adapt to customers’ situations” says Welsh. “We can do things for the customer that maybe some of the larger companies can’t because we have the ability to make final decisions. We pride ourselves on being flexible and on our ability to assist our customers in meeting their agricultural goals.”
Sustainable growth is what lies ahead for Agro Guys. While Welsh is content with the size of the current operation, every company in this industry must experience some form of augmentation in order to survive. Growth is experienced in different formats. Expansion may not be in the size of the facility or number of location. Oftentimes, increasing the number of services and products is the path a company will choose.
“We’ve had a lot of moisture lately so we’ve been providing more fungicides and specialty products,” says Welsh. “Also, any meeting that I go to concerning the agricultural industry, there is a discussion about the population growth for the future and how many people we’re going to have to feed. So in the next few years we will be focusing on keeping up with our customers’ needs and making sure our equipment is modernized to keep up with demand for increased food production.”
As Agro Guys continues into the future, Welsh emphasizes that customer service will always remain the company’s top priority. “We will always focus on our clients,” says Welsh. “We would never want to become so big that we were unable to give our customers the attention that they deserve and expect.”
Working with different farmers every day is what Welsh enjoys the most about his job. “With all the communication technology available today, I feel that the younger generation might be missing out on the personal aspects of a business relationship,” explains Welsh. “We still have farmers that prefer to come in, sit down and have a cup of coffee and plan ahead for the coming year. I feel that having that personal connection and information exchange can help prevent problems from arising in the future.”
A bright future
Agro Guys Inc. is optimistic for the future as they are witnessing a younger generation of local farmers. “It is encouraging to see young farmers wanting to get involved with the family farm again,” says Welsh. “Their willingness to take over, invest in or expand those operations is a good sign of economic stability in the industry.” For generations to come, Agro Guys Inc. will always be there to satisfy all of their customers’ needs.