Don Shimek has been a UFA Petroleum Agent for 30 years but says it feels like he started just yesterday.
“I was working on the oil rigs pushing tools, which meant that I was gone from my young family most of the time and I knew I wanted to farm and to be around for them,” says Shimek. “I saw an ad in the local newspaper, UFA was looking for an agent to take over the Picture Butte agency and I thought, what the heck, give it a try. After several interviews, that must have gone well, they picked me to be the new agent.”
Shimek says his first day on the job at UFA just happened to be the day after his youngest son Spencer’s first birthday. Shimek and his wife Colleen, who were high school sweethearts, now had three young children. In addition to Spencer, they had their oldest boy, Scott, and daughter, Stacey.
Shimek says that it hasn’t always been easy. In 30 years, the agricultural industry has changed dramatically, and there have been good times and challenging times; however, he adds the co-operative has always been there to support him. “There have been many opportunities thanks to UFA and it’s been a perfect fit. I have been able to be at home every day with my family and to watch my children grow. My job has allowed us to farm together and to remain in the community where I grew up,” he says. “My kids were all raised on the farm which was important to me, they all went to the local school and graduated here.” Best of all, Shimek says he has been fortunate to serve his customers, most of who are his friends, for all these years. “I am lucky, I feel good at the end of the day knowing that I’ve helped them get the job done. The work doesn’t stop in agriculture and where we are, in the Picture Butte area, it’s especially busy. We are steady twelve months of the year supporting our customers and I love it.”
He is quick to add that his success is only because of the tight knit group of employees that surround him, his extended family. “I couldn’t do it without my staff, I truly have the best staff you could ever have, and they make my life a breeze. We are like family and they treat the business like it’s theirs.”
Shimek adds that giving back to the community is also very important to him and one of the reasons why he is proud to be part of UFA Co-operative. “It’s our job to give back and to keep our rural communities thriving. The ag industry has changed so much in 30 years, but what hasn’t changed is how our communities support each other and rally in times of need.”
It’s just one of the reasons why Shimek has chosen to donate $500 to the volunteer fire departments in Picture Butte, Nobleford, Carmangay and Barons, in honour of his anniversary milestone. “The fire departments are very near and dear to my heart. These are all volunteers, they are crucial to the area. They need to be supported because they provide an essential service,” he says. Shimek also believes that supporting future leaders in ag is critical and it’s why he’s also donating $500 to the Lethbridge and Turin 4H Clubs.
“I want to thank the communities that we serve for their patronage for the past 30 years. None of it goes unnoticed and I am very grateful. Most of all I would like to thank my family and my staff for their support and their loyalty. They say time flies when you’re having fun and we must be having a great time. To some, 30 years may seem like a lifetime, but because of my neighbours, my community and my family it’s gone by in the blink of an eye.”
Thank you, Don Shimek, and congratulations on 30 years as an outstanding UFA Petroleum Agent!