Our Team


At AgriRoots, we’re real people serving real people. Our investors, borrowers, and the brokers we work with all help us to achieve our vision of financing the success of agriculture in Canada, while keeping farming families on family farms.

Our dynamic team of industry leaders have extensive backgrounds in fund management, brokerage, agricultural finance, capital generation, farming, business consulting, and customer service.

Leadership Team

Robb Nelson, BBA CEO


Co-Founder & Director

With over 35 years of successful business and entrepreneurial experience, including 25 years in the Private Lending space specializing in agriculture, residential development, and residential homes, Robb is a practicing mortgage professional, co-founder, and co-owner of AgriRoots Capital Management Inc. – the leading alternative lender in Canada’s agricultural sector.  In addition, he is the founding Principal, Broker of Record, and CEO of FamilyLending.ca Inc. – a mortgage brokerage providing residential, commercial, and agricultural mortgages – founded in 2001.

As a leading expert in agricultural lending, finance, investment, and mortgages, Robb offers deep insight and expertise to agricultural borrowers and investors alike, with the objective of keeping farming families on family farms across Canada.

A goal-driven, collaborative, and insightful professional, Robb focuses on identifying opportunities, building financial solutions, and providing high-quality client service.

shawn

Shawn Bustin, BComm, MBA FS 


President | Co-Founder & Director

As a senior executive in the financial services industry in Canada for more than 22 years, as well as having key personal experience in the agricultural industry, Shawn is an accomplished business leader in retail banking, commercial and agricultural lending, and wealth management. His robust skill set includes strategic planning, asset / liability and liquidity management, mergers and acquisitions, and enterprise risk management.

A life-long resident of Chatham-Kent, Ontario, Shawn’s understanding and affinity for the farming community provides AgriRoots with firsthand farm experience and the ability to assess and structure agricultural sector mortgages and financing that are sensitive and specific to the people and businesses in this sector. Shawn completed his MBA in Financial Services at Dalhousie University, and continues to be an active Chatham-Kent community participant through his service on a number of local Boards and Committees.

Matthew Alexander, BAcc, MBA


Investor Relations / Operations | Co-Founder & Director

As a licensed Mortgage Agent and Exempt Market Dealer Representative, Matt is a registered dealing  Belco Private Capital Inc., and brings 25 years of leadership experience in hospitality and property management,working closely with municipalities and Boards, along with special interest groups, to resolve problems and move issues forward. With a proven track record in successful business analysis and correction strategies, Matt offers deep insight and relationship management to all AgriRoots investors.

As a passionate life-long learner and community supporter,Matt has spent numerous hours fundraising for several non-profits including Canadian Mental Health Association,Crime Stoppers, Camlachie Athletic Association, and Bluewater Gymnastics. Matt completed his MBA at the Odette School of Business at the University of Windsor.

Melanie March 2021

Melanie Erickson, CPA, CGA 


Controller / Accountant

Melanie is a CPA, CGA, with over 10 years experience in various industries, including fashion, manufacturing, and retail grocery. As our controller, Melanie is responsible for reporting financial results to our board and stakeholders, and managing all accounting functions.

Born and raised in Chatham, Melanie attended University of Windsor where she received her B. Comm from the Odette School of Business. She continued her accounting education at UBC, and earned her CPA, CGA designation from CPABC.  Melanie is dedicated to her family, passionate about supporting growth in Chatham-Kent, and proud to be part of the AgriRoots team.

sarah

Sarah Wilkins, BA 


Director of Communications

With nearly 30 years of experience in marketing, communications, and business consulting, Sarah is a seasoned leader with experience across the private, public, and non-profit sectors. Her strong business acumen, understanding of the Canadian agricultural sector, and clarity of vision and dedication to detailed, clear communications helps to ensure that AgriRoots is building the brand and presence required to support the agricultural sector in Canada.

Sarah has launched brands, businesses, and products in both local and national markets including automotive, heavy equipment, packaged goods, pharma, services, and non-profit foundations from both the agency and corporate sides of the desk. Her role at AgriRoots includes operations, HR oversight, and all marketing, branding, and communications requirements. Sarah earned her BA from the University of Toronto in English and Philosophy.

chris

Chris Lown


Credit Analyst

Chris has over 16 years of experience in banking in Ontario and British Columbia with more than 10 years in Commercial Banking. Chris’ experience includes term, operating, mortgage and construction lending as well as assisting in managing the day-to-day investment needs of clients.

Chris is well acquainted with various lending, financial products, services and the importance of compassionate and courteous customer relationships. As our Credit Analyst, Chris reviews potential client files and incoming mortgage applications.

Directors

Tom Sabourin, CA – Director

Tom became President and CEO of Polar Asset Management Partners in 2006, after joining the firm as Chief Financial Officer in 1994. From 1996 to 2005, Tom also acted as a Vice-President of Polar Equity Partners, an affiliated private equity manager, where he assumed a leadership role in many of the firm’s investments.

Tom began his career with Ernst & Young in 1986 after earning a B.Eng from the University of Western Ontario. He gained his Chartered Accountant designation in 1988.

Tom leads Polar’s charitable efforts through The Polar Foundation, which has contributed $3 million to “Help Communities Thrive” since its inception.

Jean Laprise – Director

Jean is a well established professional in the Agricultural Industry. He is the Co-Founder and Principal of Laprise Farms Ltd, a very diversified, family owned Agri-business with several divisions involved in field, greenhouse, and hydroponic vegetable production as well as vegetable preparation for both the food processing and fresh market industries.

Jean has been a key advisor and held long term Director roles on local and provincial committees including; La Caisse Populaire de Pain Court, Ontario Vegetable Growers’ Marketing Board, Ontario Seedling Growers’ Marketing Board, and the 2018 International Plowing Match and Rural Expo.

In addition Jean has been recognized by many organizations, receiving Entrepreneur of the year Award (Chatham and District Chamber of Commerce), Industrial Energy Innovator Award (Canadian Industry Program for Energy Conservation), Feature Act Award (Chatham-Kent), and was inducted into the Chatham-Kent Agriculture Hall of Fame in 2017.

Claude Robillard – Director

Claude is the Founder and Principal of 43 North Group, a consulting firm focused on alternative asset classes and ESG / impact investing. Formerly he was the Managing Director of IR at West Face Capital where he engaged with sovereign wealth funds, pension funds, endowments, funds of funds, and family offices in domestic and international markets. Prior to joining WestFace Capital, Claude was with CIBC World Markets where he oversaw CIBC’s Capital Introduction Group and contributed to the bank’s cross-asset capabilities. Previously, Claude co-founded a European-based real estate investment group focused on development and infrastructure projects in Eastern Europe. Formerly he was a founding partner of an asset management company launched in New York that subsequently expanded to Hong Kong and Toronto, and previously held senior roles within HSBC Securities, RBC Royal Bank, and CIBC World Markets, with a focus on alternative asset classes.

Claude is a member of McGill University’s Expert Panel in Investment Management, an advisor to UNICEF on ECD projects, a registered dealing representative of Belco Private Capital Inc., and a frequent guest speaker and lecturer on alternative investments.

Advisory Board

John Cowan – Advisor

John is currently Partner/President of North American Plant Genetics. The company sources corn, soy, sunflower and sorghum genetics in Canada and the USA; doing production and sales and marketing in Ukraine. John previously held the position of VP, Strategic Development for the Grain Farmers of Ontario from 2011 – 2014. He came to GFO from Hyland Seeds where he spent 34 years, ultimately ascending to the position of President which he held from 1997 – 2011.

John has extensive experience in the seed business and knowledge of the grain industry.

His industry experience has included 8 years on the executive board of the Canadian Seed Trade Association, including a term as President in 2005 – 2006. He has served as a director on the Ontario Agri Business Board and member of the Canadian Agri-Marketing Association. His most recent board experience has been on the Oilseed innovation Partners, including the position of Board Chair from 2015 – 2018.

Don Belovich – Advisor

Donald Belovich is a partner at the leading law firm Stikeman Elliott LLP in the Capital Markets, Securities and Mergers & Acquisitions Groups. His practice focuses on mergers and acquisitions, public financings and complex corporate reorganizations. Donald also acts as counsel to issuers and underwriters in connection with initial public offerings and other public offerings and private placements. He regularly advises issuers, boards of directors and special committees on the structuring of M&A transactions, negotiating key transaction documentation, directors’ fiduciary duties, and other corporate governance, compliance and general matters.

Donald is the co-founder of 100 Guys Who Care Oakville (www.100guyswhocareoakville.com), a grass-roots organization that raises funds and awareness for Halton, Ontario based charities. Donald was also formerly an infantry officer in the Canadian Armed Forces.

Scott McKinlay – Advisor

Retired – 45 Years of Experience in the Agricultural and Financial Industries

With more than 45 years in the agricultural and financial industries, Scott, who is now retired, provides an external perspective to AgriRoots –most importantly as part of the Credit Committee for lending approvals.

A previous CPA and former CFO with extensive experience including strategic planning, budgeting, human resources, leading financial negotiations with corporate lenders, and involvement in mergers& acquisitions and new corporate start-ups, Scott is an experienced agricultural lender who has worked with a Tier 1 Bank and Crown Corporation.

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