“My journey started on a farm, and agriculture was always a part of life. I’d never have thought I would have landed back in it, but you fall back into it through passion and love,” says Terry Andryo, Director of Community Initiatives at ATB Financial.
A fourth generation Canadian, Andryo grew up north of Winnipeg on a hobby farm, with hogs, chickens, and cows for milking, although eventually wild boar became their big crop.
Cooking was a way of life, and when they ate an animal they ate everything, not only the best pieces. “Today, if you come to our place there’s still tongue in the freezer, and there’s kidney in the freezer. The only thing we avoid is tripe, I never figured out how to eat tripe,” he laughs.
Andryo was one of the few farm kids in his area to leave agriculture for art, and he has a background in design. Even today, he is creative and still draws. After a stint designing buses and furniture, he ended up in an advertising agency, resulting in him being wooed to Alberta 10 years ago to work at AdFarm, an agricultural agency. This led to a position at ATB to market agriculture businesses.
“My role allowed me to connect farmers to brewers, so I fell into this and it’s worked out pretty well for me,” he says. “It grew because of our presence, and physically being on the ground; being active, and being engaged with both communities.”
“This role has allowed me to expand being that conduit,” he continues.
“Knowing so many people in rural Alberta and combining that with knowing so many people from urban Alberta, you can match people together to have a conversation. What we’ve tried to do purposefully is to be out there and more visible. I’ll go out and help to brand cattle in the spring, and we’ll help seed and harvest; and we do this because we know how much of an impact it makes.”
Last year, Andryo won the prestigious Canadian Agri-Marketer of the Year award. “It was a huge honour, and pretty humbling that your peers think of you in that way,” he says. “Some of the things that we’re doing have now helped other companies see that we can’t just be talking to ourselves, we’ve got to be talking to the consumer.”
So what bottle is he saving for a special occasion?
Andryo has a cherished bottle of Village V, the 5th Anniversary Belgium Triple, given to him by his good friend, Jim Button (co-founder, Village Brewery).
“To get one out of 200 bottles, you feel that you’re a part of their journey,” he says. “You’ve seen them start, and you’ve seen them grow and evolve. They’re doing such great quality beer, and they speak so much to the community. They’ve embraced me, and in turn I try to embrace them and connect them, and bring a rural audience into Village. Every first Wednesday of the month there’s a hump day meeting, and I try to bring farmers in to make them feel part of the contribution of the craft beer movement.”
And when does he plan on opening the bottle?
“I’m hanging onto it,” Andryo says. “Jim told me to save it until April or May because it was aged in a wine barrel. it was made six months ago, but only released at the end of January.”
He continues, “Jim said ‘Don’t open it yet, make sure you save it for a special occasion’, and I’ve been asked two or three time already, “haven’t you cracked it yet?” So probably Father’s Day or Mother’s day I’ll open it and celebrate, because I think it’s a special occasion bottle.”