Dad’s Matchmaking Service

Beverly Written by Beverly Leavitt November 7, 2023 Member Updates

Vehicles lined up with people standing in front of them in the parking lot for Partner Ag Services.

Partner Ag didn’t start with partners; it started with strangers. 

Truth be told, it started with two dads who sent their kids on a business blind date. 

Sara Jacques and JR Hunt’s fathers knew each other through work and heard that the owners of Penner Dairy were interested in selling. It just so happened that both kids were looking for a change. 

Sara, her husband Matt, JR, and Russ Cavanagh formed a partnership, bought the dealership and renamed it Partner Ag. Russ’ wife, Kim, joined 8-9 years ago when she showed up to help with an inventory count and never left. 

Strength Sharing 

While the dads may have planted the seed, Sara, Matt, JR, and Russ grew the idea. They bonded over their backgrounds in agriculture and later met with banks to secure funding. 

Each brought their strengths to their new roles in addition to being co-owners. JR brought his accounting background, Sara HR and marketing, Russ and Matt ag sales, and Kim HR. That might not be their role now because, as any business owner knows, you shapeshift to meet the needs of the business. 

“Russ had an opportunity five years ago to become president of one of our suppliers, so now he’s our not-so-silent silent partner,” laughs JR. “At that time, we shuffled responsibilities.”

Relying on the Team 

It may seem like too many cooks in the kitchen, but the ownership structure works for Partner Ag. They even rely on managers who are often mistaken for the boss—Brad oversees small engine and Marvin manages the shop in Mount Forest. 

“While they aren’t technically the boss, we think it’s wonderful that the community sees them that way,” expands Sara. 

JR chimes in, “Our team has the ability to manage portions of responsibilities within the company. We do our best to let them do that and stay out of their way as much as possible.” 

Uniquely, they have three generations working alongside each other—none of which are part of the ownership group. 

The Driving Force to Change 

Their management structure may look a little different, and so do their offerings, which were grandfathered in from the previous owners with a product split between dairy equipment and lawn and garden. 

While some pieces come from the past, they’re also keen to look forward. 

Sara notes, “We’re a small market in Canada—not like the US or Europe—so tech often comes to us later after they’ve had the chance to work out the bugs.” 

JR continues, “For our customers, interest rates and cost of production are currently front of mind. Any opportunities there are to make their lives easier and reduce manpower would be welcomed.” 

As for what that looks like, it’s difficult to say. JR suggests, “It will either take restrictions or grants for new equipment, genetic testing, or feed to drive massive change in the dairy industry.” 

No matter what the future looks like, this group will experience it as partners thanks to two dads who saw an opportunity to matchmake a business deal.