International Women’s Day took place on March 8th, and we’ve been spending the month talking to inspirational women who work in the equipment industry.
Chances are you’ve met them on our board or at our meetings (once upon a time when they were in person)—now you get the opportunity to see what makes them shine in their careers.
Carol Schoen, Shantz Farm Equipment
As the second woman to ever serve on the CEEDA board, Carol has paved the way for other women to showcase their involvement in their businesses and come out from behind the scenes.
“I would go to meetings 30-35 years ago and be the only woman in the room. You get used to it, but I also had so much in common with the other dealers and felt welcomed.”
Starting at her father’s dealership when she was just two years old, it’s no wonder she could relate to the issues other dealers were also having and could contribute to the solution together.
“My father always encouraged me to work hard and do my best, and he would say: ‘what do you mean you can’t do that?’”
Living by her motto, “mindset is everything,” Carol has proved her father right.
In 1990, Carol and her brother took over the business and has since marked the 65th anniversary of the family-owned dealership.
Today, Carol’s son and her brother’s son both work for the business and are carrying on the tradition with plans to take it over one day.
Jacquie Waechter, Huron Feeding Systems
Jacquie’s career at Huron Feeding Systems took off with a trip to Italy. Not a trip that she was on, though. Instead, her parents, the owners at the time, went with a supplier while Jacquie covered the dealership.
On their return, she started working more than an occasional day here or there to three to four days a week, then transitioned to five, and now her workdays know no bounds.
Working hand-in-hand with her parents since, she’s taken over ownership with her business partner this year. Even her two sons have been involved in the business at some point or another.
“I hope I’ve been able to influence them having had them work alongside my dad and myself in their summer jobs. They know that it isn’t handed to them, and they need to work for it. They also learned at a young age that mom is stubborn and she’s a force to be reckoned with because she knows what she’s talking about.”
It hasn’t always been that easy with customers, but Jacquie says: “it gives me great pleasure to win over a customer who will finally talk to me and deal with me.”
When it comes to knowing what you’re talking about, Jacquie’s advice is to “job shadow. Reach out, introduce yourself and work alongside someone you know.”
Sara Jacques, Partner Ag Systems
Sara has been following in her parent’s footsteps since the early days. Working alongside them on the family farm and later at their John Deere dealership, she’s always worked within the industry in some shape or form.
Not only has her experience followed a similar path, but she also works with her husband—just like her parents.
“My parents worked together for 17 years. I don’t know how they did it because working with your spouse comes with joy and challenges.
We were newly married when we bought Partner Ag with our partners and shortly after decided to become parents.
We’ve learned that work-life balance is a mythical white unicorn for the ag industry, but our goal has always been to have children who respect what their parents do for a living. They’ve learned where their food comes from and how to raise healthy livestock and healthy food.
You see that in women in the industry. Most, though not all of us, have a natural caring and nurturing ability. That’s our strength, and I think that applies well to raising livestock. You need your animals to be healthy and to care for them. There’s a vital role for women in that.”
Sara’s advice to anyone who wants to start a career in ag: “give it your best, it’s hard work, but don’t be afraid of that. If you have a good attitude, you can accomplish anything.”
Rose Pols, Pols Enterprises Ltd.
If you’re looking for someone who truly models their advice, it’s Rose, who started from the bottom and now runs Pols Ltd. with her husband.
Rose was raised on a dairy farm, worked as a pig farmer with her former husband, installed hog equipment in barns and then moved to purchasing, logistics and job management with Avonbank. All the while raising six children.
“I started installing because I could see it from the ground up. Most times, I was the only woman on the job site, doing hard work and heavy lifting. Sometimes, farmers wouldn’t deal with me—they would ask if there was anyone around who knew anything—they wanted to talk to a man. Just little digs like that, but it’s gotten better since.”
To prove them wrong, she continued to educate herself and was the first woman in Ontario to take the crop dryer technician course.
“It was nice to have it under my belt to assist farmers better.”
Rose also notes: “It’s fun, and I love all aspects of it. Farmers are great to deal with, are friendly and (mostly) reasonable. It’s very rewarding being around these selfless, wonderful people.”
Have a story of your own to tell or want to nominate a fellow employee? Email us!