Bob Weagant, Julie Black and Stacey Weagant are preparing for the transition once Bob retires on July 29. His father Fred Weagant’s motto, “If it’s in a line, it might as well be a straight line,” will be carried on as a proud tradition when Stacey takes over management as the third generation Weagant with the help of co-director Julie Black. Sawyer Helmer photo
Kalynn Sawyer Helmer
WINCHESTER – Just like many rural children, Bob Weagant grew up working at the family business. Only for him it wasn’t a farm but a farm supply store. It started as a farm machinery business, a division of F.R. Weagant, general merchant in South Mountain in 1953. Under the direction of Weagant’s father Fred and mother Anita, the business grew and moved to Winchester in 1976. Now in 2017 the company is celebrating its 64th year of business. Fred Weagant passed away just before the company’s 60th anniversary. Anita Weagant resides at the Garden Villa in Chesterville. Bob Weagant raves that his mother still has the best memory of anyone he knows.
Weagant graduated from the University of Western Ontario in 1970 and began his career full time with the company. Some of his most memorable moments include his first sale, a McGraham Rake in South Mountain. Weagant recalled his experience selling five brand new combines to a farm in Saudi Arabia in 1985. Later in his career, nearly 10 years ago now, Weagant travelled to Saudi Arabia to instruct a farmer in the operation of a new feed mixer. The farm he visited consisted of approximately 25,000 head of cattle.
Weagant explained that some of the experiences he has had within the company came as a surprise but he saw the opportunity to go with it. Over his career, Weagant has overseen the expansion from one to three stores and 75 plus employees – some of whom are second or third generations from Fred Weagant’s original employees. At the heart of the company are fundamental family values and family of staff said Weagant.
These values and the evident business acumen of Weagant has been closely observed by his daughter Stacey Weagant, who will be taking over Weagant’s directorial position at the end of July. Weagant’s retirement party will take place on July 29. While he will remain at the head of the company as President and sit on the management board, Weagant is stepping down from his day-to-day duties.
Over the past six months, Stacy Weagant has been making the transition to her roll and learning as much as she can. However, she is more than qualified as she and her co-director Julie Black have been working full time at the company for the past 20 years. “I really respect his ability to jump into so many roles,” said Stacey of her father. It is likely his versatility that has added to the company’s success over the years.
Weagant said he has already travelled extensively and while he is eager to do more of it in his retirement he has four major priorities for his new found time off: family, the cottage, his Corvette and his Cessna 172 airplane. Weagant has been an avid flyer for 49 years.
Weagant has seen the rapid expansion of farm machinery and technology over his career. However, there are a few core fundamentals to the business that will stay the same with each passing generation. Weagant recalled his father’s motto, “If it’s in a line, it might as well be a straight line.” A proverb which has held up over three generations. Weagant explained that while walking through the lot, the nose of every machine in a line will be perfectly placed. Weagant went on to express his belief in the value of first impressions. As such he is adamant to invest in staff, the property and modernizations.
Weagant is confident in Stacey’s ability to take over his position and he is looking forward to the retirement party. “We are always ready for a party.” Weagant and his wife Sandra are skilled dancers, active in the community, and have four daughters and eight grandchildren to keep their calendars full. Sandra Weagant who has worked as a Registered Nurse for 48 years retired a mere three weeks before Weagant, beating him to the punch. The retirement party will be held at South Mountain Agricultural Hall from 7 p.m. until 12 a.m. From seven to nine there will be speeches, laughs and greetings, followed by fun and dancing until midnight.