Three Wisconsin cooperatives have announced that they will soon combine to form a new company. Cedar Country Cooperative, Elk Mound, Lakeland Cooperative, Ridgeland and United Ag Cooperative, Almena will consolidate, effective Oct. 1, with projected annual sales of $180 million.

Membership from each of the three cooperatives supported a merger. The vote in favor was 64.5 percent of all ballots cast. A 50.1 percent majority decision was required.

A strong, local presence will be maintained in all communities the co-ops serve and customer service will continue to be the focal point of the future. The leaders of all three cooperatives acknowledge that they are fortunate to have excellent employees which are important to future success.

Equity from each company will transfer dollar for dollar into the new company. Members will be eligible to have their equity paid out at age 68 wherever it was earned.

Economies of scale and the ability to purchase product at more competitive pricing was an important factor in the decision. Each organization brings unique strengths to market.

Improved asset utilization of trucks, equipment and buildings will be a key objective. Operational efficiencies will be gained because of significant geographical overlap. A larger company will also offer improved employment opportunities for employees in an ever-increasing and competitive workplace.

Agronomy, grain, refined fuels, propane and feed are hallmarks of each company. Convenience stores, tire and repair shops, and a farm equipment dealership including Versatile, LS Tractor and Gehl brands will be part of the cooperative. Well known brands such as CENEX, Holiday Stationstores, A & W and Subway will offer customers a wide variety of retail shopping.

The name of the new company has yet to be determined. Four directors from each company will be selected to sit on the board of directors. Board members will determine the location of the main office and select a general manager/CEO.

The new entity will stretch approximately 200 miles from Ashland to south of Eau Claire and Menomonie. Customers will also be serviced in Minnesota and upper Michigan.

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Dunn County News editor

Barbara Lyon is the editor of The Dunn County News in Menomonie, WI.

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