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AGRI-MARKETER OF THE YEAR
Ross Harvey, AdFarm Communications
Few people have had as much impact on Canada's agrimarketing industry as Ross Harvey, the 2003 CAMA Agri-Marketer of the Year.

Harvey is a senior partner and director of client strategy for AdFarm Communications, Calgary, Alberta, which also has offices in Guelph, Ontario; Fargo, N.D.; and Kansas City, Mo. He also serves on the agency's Board of Directors.

Harvey's agribusiness career began in the late 1970s as a junior coordinator in Crop Inputs with Alberta Pool. His ambition and talent soon led him to help launch the western arm of Canada's first agriculturally focused agency, Agripress Western.

He later became national advertising manager for Monsanto. He was the first and only Canadian to manage a Monsanto business component from Canada - a tribute to his ability to influence an American-based business from a Canadian perspective.

In 1984, Harvey became a managing partner and shareholder in The Parker Group, an agricultural advertising and marketing communications agency. Under his direction, the agency grew from $1 million in billings and fees to more than $3 million in five years. The Parker Group became AdFarm in 1998.

A TRUE VISIONARY

Harvey's vision for a U.S./Canadian communications agency to serve cross-border agribusiness needs and reinforce the AdFarm brand launched the company into the U.S. market. Business relationships were established with Flint Communications in Fargo, N.D., and a new AdFarm office was opened in Kansas City, Mo.

The logistics of the July 2003 AdFarm merger with Fieldstone Communications might have proved too difficult for any strategic planner without Harvey's dedication and skills. The merger also involved combining AdFarm Calgary with three offices in two countries. As well, Fieldstone's relationship to Parallel Strategies and Axia, a publicly owned netmedia and communications company, had to be accommodated.

Harvey's unselfish desire to create a business that represents the best interests of both the organization and the client led to a successful merger and the creation of a new, more comprehensive client services agency. AdFarm is now the largest advertising agency in Canada devoted solely to agriculture and the fifth largest agricultural communications agency in North America.

AN INDUSTRY CATALYST

Branding is Harvey's specialty. His branding leadership is well recognized within AdFarm and the wider communications industry. He has helped countless clients and agribusiness executives understand that branding isn't just a concept - it's a tool.

He is also one of the first agrimarketers to emphasize direct marketing tools to build brands (Dow AgroSciences 1998-2002). His marketing expertise has moved clients from a seasonal approach to advertising to the development of yearlong campaigns with measurable results.

Harvey's resourceful thinking has launched countless products. Small and mid-sized businesses have benefited from his ability to challenge entrenched business practices with innovative thinking. He is a resource respected and valued by the entire agriculture industry.

His ability to think outside the box has surprised several cre-ative directors. He believes that a tight strategy is the best way to set a creative team free. Harvey helps copywriters and art directors push their creative boundaries. As a result, he has attracted the best of the best in marketing, writing and creative talent to build a strong and successful agency.

Harvey's leadership in tough times in the agricultural industry is characterized by his special gift for communicating optimism. This has served the company well through the past five years when many companies did not survive. AdFarm not only survived but also identified lucrative new business opportunities and expanded.

As director of client strategy, employees in all four AdFarm offices consult him for strategic planning support, process guidance and learn from his example how to deliver exceptional client service. He has also managed in a very short time to standardize post-merger AdFarm work processes.

Harvey has been dedicated to working in agriculture and agribusiness for more than 30 years. He also maintains ownership in his family farm in Manitoba. His respect for farming is ingrained and experienced based.

His passion is to make life better for all those who farm through improved communications and a clear understanding of issues affecting agriculture. His example is a daily reminder.

In short, Ross Harvey is a legend in his own time and a worthy recipient of the 2003 CAMA Agri-Marketer of the Year Award. AM


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