Community builder to be honoured

By Geoff Lee

February 14, 2017 12:00 AM

HONOURED Cam Kay, left, the principle partner of Agland, poses with his dad Ken, a former principle partner of the company who will be inducted into the Lloydminster Agricultural Hall of Fame Feb. 15 during Agri-Visions. GEOFF LEE LLS PHOTO

Ken Kay modest about achievements

Ken Kay will soon be as famous as the John Deere tractors he sold to area farmers for more than 40 years.
Kay is one of the original partners of Agland in Lloydminster who is being inducted into the Lloydminster Agricultural Hall of Fame during Agri-Visions, the evening of Feb. 15.
“It’s a big wall and I think there’s a lot of room for a lot of people who could be on there before me,” said Kay modestly.
The 79-year-old estimates at least 40 employees will be on hand along with family members and countless customers to salute his induction and celebrate his life and business history.
Kay attributes the induction honour to following the creed of his first partner who wanted to support everything in the community that he could.
“It’s just something we’ve carried on with over the years,” he said.
“That’s where our customers are and a lot of these projects, it’s a real problem getting them going these days, so they need all the help they can get.”
Agland has donated sizable amounts of money to the gym and hall at the new Paradise Hill Community Centre and the construction of a new hockey and curling arena for Dewberry.
In Lloydminster, Agland is known as a large contributor to the construction cost of what is now the Servus Sports Centre.
“One of our partners at the time, Bob Christie, basically took most of a couple of years time off from work and was kind of the project manager for the whole thing,” said Kay.
“We didn’t bother putting our name on a rink at a time thinking they (the city) might as well sell everything off they can (naming rights) and we’ll just donate.”
He said in the end, the walking track was left over and named after Agland.
Agland makes a point of donating to the Lloydminster Region Heath Foundation every year.
“That’s something that’s a benefit to every customer we have and it’s also a benefit to every employee we have,” said Kay.
“We feel really good about supporting the Health Foundation because these people that work here get to use a lot of the extra things that they put in there with the money they raise.”
Kay’s career spans from 1957, when John Tingley owned the business, to 2000 when he retired from management.
Then he took up farming for a few years and looked after the Agland yard up until last year.
It’s safe to say Kay is a front row witness to many changes in the industry over the years.
“We’ve gone from wondering how a farmer could afford to pay $7,000 for a big field tractor—now we’re crowding $800,000 for our biggest tractor,” he said.
The dealership started in a downtown location with four employees and has grown to more than 90 at its current location on Highway 16 west of the city.
Agland also sells Bobcat skid-steers and equipment by Degelman and Brandt from Saskatchewan with John Deere as the anchor brand.
“My first partner always said we had the best supplier, John Deere and we had the best farming community in the country and the best farmers so there is no way a John Deere dealer couldn’t make a go of it,” he said.
Kay said as the years went by, they were fortunate to attract a lot of people that were really good at looking after customers.
Today, the dealership is owned by Kay’s son, Cam, and nephew, Vernon, along with other employee shareholders.
Kay also has a daughter, Heather Seiben and a slew of grandchildren.
His wife, Jean whom he married in 1965 died in 2015.
Kay keeps himself in the family business loop and said sales this winter at Agland are booming.
“I think they sold 35 new combines already this year, 12 new sprayers and about 12 new four-wheel drive tractors and we’re talking products in the $500-800,000 range,” he said.
“We have probably 25 combines from a few customers and it’s just a standing order to get them new ones every year.”
Kay said what else is driving sales today is sprayer innovation that will be demonstrated by local dealers at Agri-Visions including Agland.
“That’s one of the biggest changes in farming these days,” he said.
“In a lot of cases, a farmer gets more hours out of his sprayer than he does on his combine.”
He said a sprayer might go across the same field that a combine does once, as many as five or six times in a season for fertilizing, insecticides and pesticides.
New sprayers feature sectional control, application technology, rate control, GPS steering, and precision mapping.
“It’s very good with the new technology in that the sprayer can follow the same tracks all year in the crops and never vary more than an inch or two so they don’t waste much crop,” said Kay.
“It’s all sectional control and nozzle controls so as each section has already been sprayed it shuts it off.”
Kay said he reads a lot to stay current on what’s new, but is quick to admit that some of Agland’s customers tell them what’s new from John Deere, before John Deere does.

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