Ron Helwer was born and raised at Libau, Manitoba. He married Vera Katazinski in 1956 and together they raised three children, Sherry, Reg and Gail.
Ron began his business career in 1952 as a partner with his father Fred and brother Harvey in Libau where they operated a Massey Harris dealership. In 1956 they expanded their business to include a dealership in Selkirk. In 1960, he purchased a bulk fuel dealership in East St. Paul; it operated until 1968. Since 1968, Ron, along with family members, has operated Shur-Gro Farm Services in Brandon. Munro Farm Supplies became part of Shur-Gro Farm Services in 1990. Another of Ron’s enterprises is Can-Pro Equipment, a sales and service business for field-spraying equipment.
Ron has been an innovator and supporter of new agricultural technologies. Shur-Gro was one of the first retailers to provide custom application, soil testing, field scouting and precision-farming techniques. This raised the farmers’ knowledge as well as the productivity and profitability of farms in the entire area. An integral part of Ron’s philosophy is staff training. His company has set the standard for service and innovation. Ron has travelled the world to observe producers and the agricultural practices they employ.
Besides making a significant contribution to the agriculture industry, Ron has contributed to the communities where he does business. He was a coach of little league baseball and community club hockey teams for many years, a director and president of the Brandon Ski Team and a member of the organizing committee for the 1979 Canada Winter Games in Brandon. He was rewarded with a lifetime membership in the Brandon Chamber of Commerce and voted Brandon Business Person of the Year in 1986. Ron served as president of the Brandon University Foundation (BUF) in 1995 and 1996 and received the Apex Award in 2002 for meritorious service and outstanding leadership to the BUF. He was a director on the Manitoba Provincial Exhibition board from 1980 to 1990.
In 1978, Ron helped establish the Western Fertilizer and Chemical Dealers’ Association and then served as its president from 1979 to 1980. He served as a director of the National Fertilizer Solution Association in the U.S. from 1977 to 1991. Ron has had a long association with the Canadian Association of Agri-Retailers (CAAR). He was the recipient of the Association’s President’s Award in 1981; in 2008 he was recognized with the Retailer Hall of Fame Award and in 2012 Shur-Gro was recognized with the CAAR’s President’s Award. Ron was one of the driving forces behind the formation of The Grow Community of Independent Dealers.
Ron Helwer has been an energetic and powerful force in bettering the lives of rural people near and far.