Barb McGrath 0:00
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Adele Buettner 1:06
Barb McGrath 1:07
It’s a pleasure to have you here. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your business.
Adele Buettner 1:13
I’m excited to be here. Thank you for the invitation, Barb. Well, I started my business in 1993. We’re going on to our 28th year and I just I don’t know where the time has gone. Yeah, it’s just flown by. I guess when you like what you do Time goes
Barb McGrath 1:28
By fast. It That is so true.
Adele Buettner 1:31
Yeah. And I was raised on a farm just a few minutes east of Saskatoon. So I’m from an agricultural background, but kind of had the best of both worlds. You know, my family, they were entrepreneurs. And they farmed about five minutes from the city. So we lived in the country, although I went to school in the city, when we had all in the city and we play ball in the city and had music lessons in the city. So you know, although we lived in the country and had that experience of, of knowing how to grow food and how to farm life, it we we also feel very much like we were a part of the city too.
Barb McGrath 2:04
So do you live in this city now or still rural.
Adele Buettner 2:07
I lived in the country until about 10 years ago, and I live in Saskatoon now.
Barb McGrath 2:12
Okay, so in the city now, you know, it’s interesting, I married into a farm family. And so same thing I had the city experience growing up, we chose home for me, and my husband grew up on a farm out near Humboldt. So our experiences were really different. I want to say the things that he could get away with as a kid, or especially as a teen, there was no way we could get away with some of that stuff. Yeah, in this city. So it is it’s a different experience right from the classroom, the school the sport. Absolutely. So agribusiness communications, tell me a little bit about the services you provide to your customer.
Adele Buettner 2:48
It was kind of the core of our of our business plan. And then that project work where people or organizations needed a job, you know, that had a start and a finish date done. That was just a contract work. We were interested in that. So that’s how we looked at our secondary part of our business. So Association management, we almost call that as our retaining clients. And then project work was the balance. And now over the last few years, we’ve seen a bit of a shift where we still provide Association management in agriculture and food. New a lot of project work, like we do everything from developing recipe books to doing media training, to doing focus groups or logo design. So it’s really evolved. As our industry is changed and some of the needs change, we were able to adapt and continue to through COVID.
Barb McGrath 3:45
Well, you know, isn’t that true? Because I think as we come out of COVID, or as we continue in COVID, businesses who have been able to adapt, seem to be doing okay, businesses were their platform relied on that, you know, face to face in person, they have had a much more difficult time. And of course, all of these new protocols impact them at a much higher level. So I presume that you were probably able to move a lot of your work in business online, zoom, Google meat, Skype, all those sorts of technology.
Adele Buettner 4:18
Well, for sure, we were able to move quite a bit of our business online. But certainly some of our business, you know, is no is is deferred for a year or longer because there’s no internet, right? There’s no need to face events. And although if you’re able to emulate some of the learning online, we haven’t really mastered the networking yet.
Barb McGrath 4:40
Yeah, it’s not the same.
Adele Buettner 4:42
That’s a face to face.
Barb McGrath 4:44
It is Yeah.
Adele Buettner 4:46
So we have moved a lot of our programs online. We’ve also introduced some new programs and the thing that we’ve really been focusing on and strategizing is aligning ourselves with other areas of expertise that we don’t have. Okay. So, you know, looking at, we recently launched an HR division, where I’ve brought in a number of HR experts that are independent consultants that, you know, as, as we work through with our clients, and people who have, you know, called upon us to help with strategies. And if you’re needing HR expertise, I have a bank of people that we can call.
Barb McGrath 5:25
That you can draw on. Yes, right. So so so how big is your business? Is it primarily you and you work with some subcontractors when needed? or What does it look like?
Adele Buettner 5:35
Well, pre COVID, our business was nine staff, and quite a group of external contractors. And I still have those external contractors and their six staff, I just had one go on mat leave, actually. So just had a few that have moved on for various reasons, but they’ll have six staff. And we’ve always worked a lot with external expertise.
Barb McGrath 6:01
Yes. And, and, and we are the same in my business, there’s when when you need a specific skill set, it doesn’t tend to be you know, a skill set that you use often, it’s just as it’s more efficient for the client, to not retain that skill set, because that’s going to impact pricing and things like that. So I think that’s, it’s becoming more common nowadays. And I always like to talk about that virtual model. So were you a virtual model before? Or did you have a physical space,
Adele Buettner 6:32
We have a physical space and our company is a little bit unique in the sense that we have a professional office. And I have staff here, obviously, and myself Monday to Friday, and our office serves as the office to a number of our retaining clients. So, you know, often that association or industry may say, you know, what, they, they can’t have a full time office presence or office complement of staff, they don’t warrant it. But I have the illusion of a full time office and have access. So our office serves as the office to several others. But I’ve also always been a contractor. Never. So, as you mentioned earlier, where you draw on a bank of other people, you know, 30 years ago, when I started, or 20 years ago, that was a very unique model.
Barb McGrath 7:28
Oh, absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. And, in fact, I think so much so that at the time, people would have felt a little bit uncomfortable with that model, because it was so uncommon. Everybody was a, you know, 30 year employee of a business not Yeah, absolutely.
Adele Buettner 7:47
Yeah. 30 years, you know, looking for the benefits and that sort of thing. And I, I know, you know, I was in my late 20s, when I started and when I, you know, would knock on doors and build my network, I’d say I’m a contractor was a different, it was a, it was very new. Right?
Barb McGrath 8:05
Absolutely. You know, and and even nowadays, I think if you were to talk to my family and ask them what I do, they’d kind of give you a look at not really sure. Computer goes wherever she goes. And we know they haven’t lost their house. So that business must be paying the mortgage.
Adele Buettner 8:25
Barb McGrath 8:27
It’s it’s not it, that’s not a derogatory statement. It’s simply it’s really tough to understand that the virtual environment, when you are so used to that traditional, you know, Monday to Friday in a school or, you know, wherever you might be working. Yeah, our world is changing, as they say exponentially on a daily basis. Yeah. Has COVID had an impact on you?
Adele Buettner 8:55
Oh, certainly, I’ve had an impact on everyone, you know, for sure it has, you know, and and the interesting thing is, you know, you think okay, early on, it was well, we’ll plan for two weeks, we’ll plan for three weeks. Planning is a little bit of a tricky thing. And of course, as I mentioned, our farm tours, our events have all been cancelled, or postponed or whatever, it may be indefinitely.
Adele Buettner 9:19
But with everything that, you know, when when you have changes like this, there’s also an element of excitement. Yes, no, because you’re looking at new partnerships and new scrimmages, and you’re creating something new and different and I’ve often thought that a group is plugged holes. In some some cases, you know, when commodity groups or businesses are having a tough time filling a gap or finding a solution for a challenge or finding someone to facilitate a program or manage a program.
Adele Buettner 9:54
We’ve been able to step up and and try to help them and work with them collaboratively to meet their goal. And, oh, it’s much the same. It’s, you know, talking to a lot of our industry and outside of our industry and seeing how are people doing things? And what’s needed? And how can we learn from each other.
Adele Buettner 10:16
So you bet the business has changed absolutely for everybody. Because a lot of our programs are online, as I mentioned, and we’ve brought in a few more consultants that have great expertise that I don’t hold, but I feel value in that connection. So, you know, every day’s a little bit new. And this morning, we had a staff meeting, and we’re talking about, hey, what can we do with seniors? You know, one thing that we’re seeing all the time on on the news is our seniors that are restricted right now, and their families are restricted. And you know, is there an opportunity to develop some agricultural literature for seniors and how to reach out to them. So, you know, it’s a lot of brainstorming, but it’s very fresh brainstorming, and there is an element of excitement.
Barb McGrath 11:05
Exactly, it’s invigorating, when you have the chance to brainstorm and come up with those ideas. It’s so invigorating, it just, you know, gets in the office bright and early the next day to, to try it and to see what you can do. Now see, now there’s the common thread. So just to help our audience understand, Adele joined me right after I was finishing recording another session. And, you know, while we, as entrepreneurs tend to have lots of things in common, our businesses are also different. And so the entrepreneur that that Adel joined us, at the back end of the conversation for was there looking to do the same thing, they’re innovating, they’re having to stay fresh, they’re having to stay future focused.
Barb McGrath 11:48
And to me, that’s always the sign of a business that will survive and injure. Because if you if you are able and willing to turn on a dime, like we all did on the 15th of March, then that really, to me, that really speaks to who you are, as an entrepreneur, you see yourself having a responsibility and supporting your clients employing your staff. Right. And that’s not that’s not necessarily everyone’s take on, you know, how do I continue to operate? Right? So kudos to you? That’s, I think that’s a fantastic thing. Absolutely. Well, thank you. So, um, the whole reason, of course, that you and I connected was, you’re on the advisory committee with the women entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan. Can you talk a little bit about your role on that committee?
Adele Buettner 12:35
Oh, that was such an honor to be on that committee. You know, it was a 10 month adventure, where the Women’s Entrepreneur together with support from the Ministry put together advisory committee to look at how we can reduce the gender gap in the professional world, essentially, you know, we did some studies on Pay Equity on accessing capital on how we can make the the the workforce more of a level playing field, that we identified a handful of gaps that we presented to our ministry of areas that need to be continually research to try to, to try to lessen that gap. Okay. There were, I think there were 10 women and two gentlemen that were on our committee, and met several times from September till just this June. And all of the players came from very different backgrounds. There were a couple of us that had an agricultural background, or a business background, and but there were a variety of others as well, from pharmacy to Hilberg and Burke, to conexus us credit union, you know, Western Business Machines, just a variety of representatives. And it was really an interesting experience, and I appreciated the opportunity.
Barb McGrath 14:01
Yeah, absolutely. So when you think about the work that committee did, and you think about that final report, was there anything in that final report that surprised you?
Adele Buettner 14:12
Well, one thing that surprised me a little bit because I I in my line of business, I didn’t need to go down this path. But the some of the research showed that women had a difficult time to access capital. Mm hmm. And it was tougher for women entrepreneurs to access capital versus male entrepreneurs. You know, I wasn’t aware of that BB when I came on the committee just because everybody’s business is different. Yes. And, and varying levels. So that certainly was a surprise or, you know, was a surprise to me. It was new to me. And another thing that came out of some of the discussions and it wasn’t one of their recommendations, but I must Say it is something that has come up in my world a great deal because I talked to industries from across the province in rural areas as well. It’s the fact that, you know, we can put a man on the moon, but we can’t have good internet connection. Well, Saskatchewan. So, you know, that hinders people
Barb McGrath 15:19
Adele Buettner 15:21
It is a serious issue for people who are remote and cannot have good access. Yes. So you know that, as I say, that came up in our discussions. No, it wasn’t a recommendation. It didn’t come up in discussions. And that’s certainly something I hear regularly. Yes. So, but anyway, but accessing capital was, was probably a, that was something I wasn’t quite aware of, I always felt there was a need for mentorship. And that came through, you know, some streamlining access to data programs and networks that came through. But, you know, there were a handful of recommendations that came through on this on the report. So it was very worthwhile.
Barb McGrath 16:08
So here’s a question that I’ve asked a few guests in the past. When we look at gender roles, the gender roles are definitely changing. If you look back to maybe your parents, or even your grandparents, who did what is probably quite a bit different than you know, what, what you may have done, if you have children, or what you may see with your grandchildren. And I’ve often wondered, how many generations will will evolve will pass before there is no gender role. Before it’s simply, you know, we raise the kids, we do the laundry, versus she doesn’t hate us. And I, you know, I watch even in my own kids, because I’m very fortunate, I have a very supportive spouse, I work crazy hours, and we do many of them most of the time. And he steps in and you know, he’ll do the groceries or he’ll do the laundry, but you get get the gist. Right into I often wonder how many generations will pass before those gender roles won’t exist?
Adele Buettner 17:15
Yeah, and that’s a great question. I think, you know, part of change happens when there’s awareness. This was part of what we did was we raised the awareness of what the gap is, that study wasn’t done before. So this is a, this is a, this is part of the start. Or maybe it’s not even a start. It’s been, you know, efforts have been made in the past as well. But this is another effort, and it helps raise the awareness. I think it’s part of keeping the conversation going and making sure that this stays as a topic. So we all work together and have a more balanced workforce.
Barb McGrath 17:56
Yes, you know, and I think that’s a really important point, because I did know that there was challenges for women to gain access to capital, I’ve heard prophet talk a number of times about it. And I’m in a very similar position to you, I, I didn’t need to access capital to be successful in business. And so it wasn’t a path I had to go down. But I’ve certainly heard from a number of women who talk about that journey and how difficult it was, and, you know, some of them some of the even stereotypical questions where, you know, they were being asked for a piece of information, or to put a house up for collateral, where men weren’t being asked for the same thing. And, you know, again, you were talking about gender roles. When you look at the financial sector, and who’s asking those questions. That’s an industry that has traditionally been blue suit black suit men. And so all of this is, you know, changing and I, as much as COVID changed our businesses overnight. I don’t think that’s changing overnight, that’s taking a much longer period of time to change. Right. And so that’s unfortunate.
Adele Buettner 19:05
Barb McGrath 19:06
What do you see your role in helping to create this change, then? Do you have a role? is there is there work you can do with your clients to help additional women gain access to capital or start businesses? Do you see a group is having a role? Well, I
Adele Buettner 19:24
I wouldn’t say my area of expertise would be to help people and guide them to access capital there are there will be far more others that would be better versed at doing that and have the experience. However, another area that did come out of the results of this study was the importance and value of having mentorship. And I feel that it’s very important for people that are newly wanting to get into business, or female, I don’t care. I’m happy to help any young entrepreneur that is that is wanting to start a new business. I’ve been part of a mentorship through an organization called Women in agriculture for the last number of years. And I’ve had a number of members of that group call me and and we’ve had many discussions where I, if I can help them and share my expertise, I want to do that.
Adele Buettner 20:17
But also, you know, through being in business for almost 30 years, you get to know people, yes, it’s not always through an association that people call you for mentorship. So if I can help, I feel that something that I’m capable to do, I’m experienced to do and I have, because I am a business owner and have been responsible for so many different areas. I’m fairly well versed and I’m happy to share my my experiences with with people that are starting out. Having said that, it’s always good to have several people that they can go to, but I’m happy to be one of them.
Barb McGrath 20:53
Exactly. And I agree with you mentorship is is critical when you’re getting started. if for no other reason to have a network of people to pick up the phone and say, How do I do this? Where do I find this? How do I make this happen? Right? Yeah, can be as simple as, okay, I need a bookkeeper. Right? It doesn’t have to be complicated stuff. That’s great. Um, I’ve lost my train of thought, because I was just going to ask you something. So we’ll, we’ll jump into another conversation. So what does the future for, for your business for the egg industry look like? I have kids, they’re in their teens. And and so I know, that sounds like a bit of a funny question when I start, so they’re in their teens. And we’ve made a point of you know, who doesn’t come from the grocery store food is something that’s growing, in most cases, and we we, as a family do try and eat, you know, real food, much more so than, you know, stuff that comes out of packages. But where do you see this going? Again, a generation or two from now, because, you know, these kids are already completely disconnected from where food comes from. Nevermind a couple of generations from now, when you know, a banana is gonna come out of a wrapper of some sort. Where’s this gonna go?
Adele Buettner 22:07
Well, I think we’ll see a number of different things that will come out of our food industry, not just agriculture, but our food industry. You know, first of all, when we look at the the egg industry, the farm community as it is, that is the most technical, technologically advanced industry. Among the most technologically advanced industries, there are you step into a combine today, it does not look anything like the combine your parents drove when you and I were children, it’s very advanced, because farmers and ranchers want to be the best they can be. And they are environmentalists, and they are veterinarians, you know, they want to look after their livestock look after the crop. So there’s lots of changes in the farming side that will continue. Yes, there’s like any industry that wants to advance farming is the same. But when we look at the food side, you know, and we look at our culture, we, our community is changing. We are an international community today more. So again, if we revert back to when you and I were a children’s age. And with that people are looking to have diverse food. And we are very fortunate in this community in Saskatchewan, to have a wide choice of food, absolutely.
Adele Buettner 23:27
Go to the grocery store, you have a choice of free range, or commercial or omega three, or brown eggs, or white eggs or small eggs or large eggs. You know, that’s like all sorts of food choices that we grow. Our consumers have that and they’ll want to continue having that. So I think we’ll see some new products coming into the market. Our community is growing from, you know, other point point points in the country or in the world have come to Saskatchewan and come to Canada. And they would appreciate having some of the food and where we can I think we’ll see that.
Barb McGrath 24:02
Exactly. No, I think that’s a fantastic point.
Adele Buettner 24:05
Yeah, I think too, you know, more learning is online, as well. You know, there’s a new website that is done in Saskatoon called Canadian Food focus. And it really answers a lot of great questions because not everybody has had the opportunity to be connected to the farm. So we offer some awesome information, as does a national group called the Canadian center for integrity. They have wonderful information on their on their website, too.
Barb McGrath 24:42
Yeah, that’s fantastic. Adele, if you can believe it, we’re already out of time. So I’m just gonna wrap up the show. But I really want to thank you for joining me today. I know when you and I emailed first in just emailing back and forth, you weren’t quite sure that you wanted to So I really do appreciate that you took time to talk with me today and, and the the egg food industry. I mean, I think it’s like all industries right now, but it is undergoing such significant change.
Barb McGrath 25:12
And I think it’s important to stay connected to those roots to understand, you know where our food comes from and what we’re putting in our body because it just has so much impact. So anyway, thank you very much for joining me today. If you’d like to be a guest on the show, you can email me at Barb at Google girl.ca or reach out on Facebook and Instagram at Above the Fold. ca. Just a reminder, you can submit your questions in advance of the live show on our Facebook page. I’m your host, Barb McGrath, local business owner and Google girl. Remember, you are charged for your success. Don’t keep it a secret. Bye for now.
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