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Faces of Agriculture: Kim McConnell

Updated: Jul 7, 2023

Cultivating the entrepreneurial spirit, leadership, and marketing communications within the agriculture space

Early on in life, Kim McConnell recognized that agriculture was the place for him. Agriculture plays an intricate role in the world, from environmental sustainability to economic growth, all while feeding the global population. With McConnell at the centre of it all, he became one of the most recognized names in Canada’s agricultural marketing and communications industry.

A big part of McConnell’s passion for agriculture stems from the entrepreneurial spirit which is embedded at the core of the industry.

“The heart of agriculture, the core base of agriculture, is probably the farm—and the family farm is an entrepreneurial enterprise,” says McConnell.

McConnell, himself, comes from a family farm situated near the small town of Hamiota, Manitoba. His family has lived on the land, operating the farm since 1884. Growing up in a rural community surrounded by agriculture, he was also involved with 4-H, acquiring essential leadership and teamwork skills that proved to be key assets to his agriculture career.

“That also gave me my entrepreneurial spirit. It was enriched through agriculture . . . , and it went on from there,” says McConnell.

His first business endeavour came about in 1984. At the time, advancements in agriculture were underway and heading to market—new crop protection products, agriculture equipment, and all sorts of innovative tech were being introduced to the industry. As a young entrepreneur, McConnell noticed something.

“[Agriculture companies] had a sales force, they had a production facility, they might've had research, et cetera—but they didn't have marketing departments,” says McConnell.

“So, when they would go to promote these new products, where did they turn? They were turning to the big consumer-based agencies.”

However, these marketing agencies had no expertise to market these new ag products. That’s when McConnell spotted an opportunity—with only $5,000 in the bank and the support of his wife, McConnell took a risk and founded his first agriculture marketing and communications company: Fieldstone.

“Every day was a learning experience—I was on new turf. I had to learn the business—how to run a business, how to hire, inspire, and lead people,” says McConnell.

Over the years, Fieldstone continued to grow and became a major player in ag marketing. Then in 2001, Fieldstone and the Parker Group merged to form one of the most influential and recognizable names in ag marketing and communications—AdFarm.

McConnell was appointed as the CEO and the company expanded their operations throughout North America while collecting a number of awards and accolades along the way. In 2004, Canadian Business recognized AdFarm as one of Canada’s 50 Best Managed Companies.

“Why did we have great success? I'm a true believer that success is a team sport. You don't do that individually. We had really great people—people who wanted to flourish in their careers [and] people who wanted to succeed,” says McConnell.

Another key factor to the success of AdFarm was one of their brand promises. AdFarm strived for what was described as the combination of "ag-ness" and "ad-ness." McConnell and AdFarm wanted to know agriculture better than any of their competitors and to understand communications better than their clients.

“That made us unique. That was our promise,” says McConnell.

After five years as AdFarm’s CEO, McConnell turned fifty and decided he wanted to move onto new projects. As he wrapped up the chapter of his career he calls “operational leadership,” he moved onto the next one.

“I’ll call this [next] phase ‘directional leadership.’ I became the director of a number of corporations [and industry initiatives] across North America, like the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity,” says McConnell.

Throughout all of Kim McConnell’s accomplishments and feats in his agriculture career, he describes himself as a lucky man—his upbringing on the family farm surrounded by his rural surroundings contributed to his success in agriculture marketing communications.

But as agriculture continues to evolve and new faces enter the industry, McConnell’s focus has once again shifted.

Nowadays, McConnell aspires to step aside and make way for the next generation of agriculture—he calls this phase of his career “inspirational leadership.” By mentoring budding leaders in the industry, everyone from young women, Indigenous, and people of colour to scale-up entrepreneurs, McConnell wants to uplift the faces of tomorrow.

“What I do now is I utilize my experience, all the mistakes, my connections, [and] my wallet to be able to provide philanthropic support [to these individuals],” says McConnell.

According to McConnell, there’s no limit to what you can do in agriculture. Whether it’s storytelling, science, or technology—no matter what a person’s interests are, there’s always a place in agriculture. As an advocate and strong supporter in Canada’s agriculture industry, McConnell is optimistic about where it is heading.

“The future is very, very bright. We're not only the industry of today, we are definitely an industry of tomorrow,” says McConnell.

“We are food. We are environment. We are renewable energy. We are investment. We are an economic driver. Gosh, I'm a lucky man that I got exposed to this at a very early age and have been able to be part of the journey of where we have come from and where we're going.”


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