Mike grew up on a farm near Scott, SK. as part of a large farming family. He obtained his Agriculture degree in 1991 at the University of Saskatchewan with a Specialization in Soils. He worked for Dow, Agriculture Canada, Novozymes and Monsanto in various research capacities during his university years. Upon graduation he began his career as a retail agronomist with Imperial Oil. In 1994 Mike moved to the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool as a Senior Commodity Merchandiser, sourcing and trading special crops. From 1997 to 2000 he acted as a Business Process Reengineer, obtaining his PMP and helping design and implement a new IT grain handling system. From 2001 to 2004 Mike worked with the Canadian Wheat Board operating out of Alberta and Saskatchewan. In 2004 he joined Federated Co-operatives Ltd. in Saskatoon as their Corporate Agronomist and later served as the Director of Marketing in the Crop Supplies Department.
For the past five years as the Director of Corporate Initiatives for Ag-West Bio, Mike has served as government liaison, keeping provincial and federal governments up-to-date on regulatory and trade issues. He works with industry, research institutions, associations, and government agencies to identify and lead key strategic initiatives and execute collaborative projects to strengthen Saskatchewan’s ag-bioeconomy, and he provides strategic guidance in Ag-West Bio’s commercialization activities. Mike is happily married with four children. He continues to own land with his wife, but is no longer actively farming. He is currently completing his EMBA.
CEO, President. One of the original Founders and a major shareholder in the Virtex Group (VGE Virtex Grain Exchange Ltd, Virtex Farm Foods Ltd, North Prairie Family Farms Ltd
A graduate in economics and business from the University of Calgary in 1990, Rick originates as a fourth-generation farmer from the Prince Albert, Saskatchewan area. He was involved in family owned businesses and ventures for twenty years until 2000, including farm input supply, trucking/logistics and the hotel industry. With the inception of a new family company PenStar Ventures Corporation in 1996, he became involved in agricultural project research development and non-agricultural investments. His first research project in 1996 was the feasibility of a grain logistics and marketing program through the Port of Churchill. In 2002, the Pender’s sold the family farm, but continued actively in the pedigreed seed business. In 2000, he became president of Farm Corp International Ltd. and subsequently, president of Farm Corp United Grain Pool Ltd. until 2008 where he oversaw project development, strategic planning and operations management with over 500 farm shareholders. In that capacity, he was involved in farm membership growth, grain marketing, developing and monitoring specialized block marketing programs and a $200 million food processing development project for hulless barley and wheat. He also has international networking experience with farm organizations, farmers and companies in Europe, United Kingdom, United States and Canada and was a guest speaker at the prestigious Oxford Farming Conference (UK) resulting in a published paper in the Journal of the Institute of Agricultural Management, University of Reading United Kingdom in 2002.
He has been the head of Virtex Grain Exchange Ltd since its 2009 inception involving a group of 30 farm shareholders from central Saskatchewan, block marketing grain and developing value added possibilities for their farms. Since then he has led the parent company into the value-added development of Virtex Farm Foods Ltd in 2013 and North Prairie Family Farms Ltd in 2015. Overall the Virtex group has grown to 114 farm shareholders. Presently, Virtex Farm Foods specializes in the production of Non-GMO expeller pressed canola and North Prairie focuses on marketing and sales of its own brand North Prairie Gold, a Non-GMO, cold pressed, “Farmer to table” gourmet oil. The group is presently working on other farm to table possibilities as well.