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Twenty-five years down, here's to the next 25

The North West Terminal in Unity looks to the future after celebrating their 25th anniversary in 2021

UNITY ‑‑ The balloons have deflated, the streamers have been swept up. The celebration is over. And wasn’t that a party?

North West Terminal spent the last year marking a 25-year milestone with parties, golf, media campaigns and random acts of kindness because, well, it is sort of what North West Terminal does. NWT gives back and they do things big.

Much like how North West Terminal came to be – tailgate discussions about how a grain elevator could be done better – the 25th celebrations came to be in the same manner.

“Around the office there was chatter about how (2021) was our 25th year in operation and Jason (Skinner, CEO) indicated this was something we needed to celebrate,” 25th committee co-chair Raeanna Kelly explained.

The suggestion turned into a conversation about ideas and it just kept growing.

“We decided it was best to form a committee so we could share ideas and plan things properly,” co-chair Wanda Gumpinger added.

The committee was formed, and plans were put into place. As with everything in the current world climate, a pandemic handcuffed many wishes and wants and made planning a challenge. But the committee, led by the two chairs, got to work.

First off was the 25-year anniversary logo and subsequent media campaign. Articles and advertisements raised the profile of the facility from its humble beginnings to aggressive expansion, and of course, its people.

“So many people drive by this place every day and had no idea what goes on here,” Gumpinger said.

“We wanted the public to know about the proud history and the great success story the company has been over a quarter century,” Kelly explained. “The articles in the paper certainly helped with that.”

Gumpinger added many of the current employees and board members didn’t know the history of the building and its promotors. They were also unaware of the diverse expansions and the economic impact NWT has on the community and all that it gives back.

The committee sponsored several golf functions in the summer at golf courses all over the territory. A good time was indeed had by al. Evan Brown saw to that. And there were dozens of giveaways. Random acts of kindness they were labelled. Gift certificates in local businesses from towns surrounding the area were given away to loyal customers, people doing charitable work or people who just needed their day brightened. In total $3,000 was spent on these giveaways, supporting local small businesses.

The climax of the celebrations, however, was the community barbecue held in conjunction with the Farming for the Future field day in September. The committee chairs managed to get most of the founding board and members of boards past together to mark such a noteworthy milestone. The co-chairs noted the pride in both the current employees and the founders and promotors throughout the day, many of whom shared fond memories of their time. Many said they hadn’t seen one another in years, so the celebration served as a reunion in many regards.

“To pull that off in between waves of Covid … I was so impressed how it all went down. The large crowd, all the directors, founders and promotors and the people from all backgrounds getting together was so good to see,” Kelly beamed.

“The founding members and current board sitting with all the school children … it couldn’t have gone better.”

Gumpinger said it was overwhelming to see everyone pitch in and the massive crowd that came to join in the fellowship and the celebrations.

“Everyone pitched in, it was incredible. When the barbecue was over, I went back outside, and the tent was already down, and everything put away. Everyone wanted to help, but that’s how it is out here (NWT),” she said.

The 25th year came and went. The rebranded logo and letterhead are being taken out of commission and its business as usual while North West Terminal gets to work on year 26, working through a challengingly dry season staring ahead with optimism.

From its humble beginnings to growing into the largest employer in Unity, NWT also keeps many contractors and other businesses busy, there is still more in store for the future. NWT is not done growing.

Kelly, strategic planning analyst for North West Terminal, said the landscape of NWT will continue to change in the coming years.

“As we build and act on our corporate plan the future is very bright here and there is growing trends in specialty ag and plant-based opportunities, proving to open up the space for what we can do with grains from Saskatchewan,” she said.

“Maybe the next 25 years can be as successful as the first 25.”

The five-year corporate plan would indicate as much is the plan with continued growth front and centre in the documentation.

NWT Corporate plan visioning statements:

Our vision (2027) is to be a sustainable agri-business leader that leverages its grain sourcing capabilities to add value and help nourish the world.

Our purpose is to find the most valuable use for our grower’s grain through value-added activities and niche market premiums.