The members of Farmers Cooperative Company headquartered in Ames and West Central Cooperative based in Ralston have both approved the merger of their co-ops effective April 1, 2016. The two major cooperatives are teaming up to become the seventh largest grain company in North America.
The new co-op will be called Landus Cooperative and will be led by Milan Kucerak, the current West Central president and CEO. Landus will be made up of more than 70 grain, agronomy and feed locations in 26 Iowa and three Minnesota counties. The merger will give Landus a staff of nearly 700 employees. The newly formed Landus Co-op will be headquartered in Ames.
Access to all seven major rail lines for grain shipping
Landus will have an 18-member board of directors, seating nine representatives from each cooperative for equal representation. This merger positions Landus with shuttle-loading capacity for grain on all seven major rail lines that serve Iowa. Kucerak says the merger showcases the members' request for their cooperatives to do more together than they could do separately. "And we take our member's confidence very seriously as we prepare for this integration and carrying out of the merger," he adds.
Jim Chism, CEO of FC Co-op, says his members and the board of directors are very pleased with the outcome. Not only is the board pleased but management, too. That's because together FC and West Central will become an even stronger cooperative, positioned to improve the economic well-being of its owner-members, he says.
Member's voices were heard in this merger process
"Our member's voices were heard in this merger process," says Kucerak. "Not only in the results of the vote, but in each and every member meeting and coffee shop conversation." He says the merger met the state of Iowa's voting requirements for co-ops to join together. At least 50% of each membership (plus one) voted, and two-thirds or more of those ballots favored the merger.
"In this merger vote, our members were presented with a rare opportunity to combine two strong, financially stable cooperatives in a merger of equals to maintain local ownership for generations to come," says Sue Tronchetti of Paton, chair of the West Central board of directors. John Scott, an Odebolt area farmer and president of the FC board, says "On behalf of our boards, management and the nearly 700 employees we will have as a result of this merger, we appreciate each and every member who cast a ballot in this historic cooperative merger."
More information will be coming in the months ahead as plans to join the two co-op businesses are finalized, says Kucerak.