Farmway Coop celebrated its 102nd year in existence at their annual meeting held at the Beloit Municipal Building last night. It all began in 1910, when delegates from 12 neighborhood Farmers' Union organizations met at the Mitchell County Courthouse in Beloit, Kansas to form a countywide chapter of the Farmers' Education and Cooperative Union of America.
By 1911, with the charter in place, the Farmers' Union Association was born and-as a farmer-owned petroleum cooperative-its focus centered on providing farmers with fairer prices on petroleum products and other services essential for farming operations. Its first major purchase included oil storage tanks near the railroad in Beloit and two draft horses for the transportation of gasoline to its producers.
In 1915, it was renamed the Mitchell County Farmers Union Co-op Association. New services and products were continuously offered by the Mitchell County Farmers' Union Co-op Association and, with the introduction of cream stations, grocery stores and new elevators with up-to-date equipment, the cooperative continued to expand and grow. At the 1948 Annual Meeting, members voted to start an expansion program to build new elevators at the Cooperative's locations in Mitchell County. Included in the expansion were new service stations, new fertilizer facilities and bulk fueling sites.
In the late 1960's, the Cooperative expanded into Lincoln County and, as a result, appointed a committee to create a new name for the Mitchell County Farmers' Union Co-op Association. In 1968, the Cooperative held a naming contest where more than 300 possible new names were submitted-three of which ultimately came before the Board of Directors. By unanimous decision, the Board elected to use the name of Farmway Co-op, Inc. What began as just one community in Mitchell County, Kansas has today expanded into 19 successful locations across seven counties in North Central Kansas.
"This growth and success has only been possible because we have kept our promise to be a committed partner and provide tailored solutions to make our customers efficient and profitable. We are proud of our company and its many accomplishments, but most of all we are proud of our customers and members who depend on us to be a knowledgeable and reliable resource with an unwavering focus on customer satisfaction. Our primary goal is to continue earning your confidence and satisfaction through hard work and integrity. Farmway Inc. is a profitable, highly competitive, diversified and well -financed business model committed to enhancing the enhancing the economic well being of its member/ owner's," Art Duerksen - President / CEO said.
Allen Eilert, President of the Board, told those present at the meeting that this year was a bad year but our balance sheet is strong and we will survive. If we can just keep things from freezing we should be all right. Recent showers have helped but we are not out of the drought yet. However at this time things are looking promising, While 2012-2013 has turned into a successful year it has not been without challenges," Eilert said.
"Safety has been very important issue for the Board of Directors this year. We have some aging structures but most of our grain facilities are in good repair," Eilert said. There is one unsafe structure in Clay Center that is being torn down."
Eilert said it is getting tougher to find quality board members to serve. They have to look at the bigger picture and say, where do we go from here?" He challenged members to become a member of the board. "If you have integrity and an open mind then you can qualify as a board member. If you are concerned because you need a stable market and if you want to be able to pass your operation on to you predecessors then you qualify to be a board member." Eilert said if you aren't sure you want to be on the regular board then become an associate board member to start out with and find out the opportunities and challenges of being a board member.
President and CEO Duerksen told the crowd that Eilert has decided not to run for the board again this year. He said Eilert is one of the finest Board Presidents he has ever served with in his forty years in administration.
Farmway"s total assets are down as were the total sales this past year, Duerksen said. If they don't have a wheat crop they will be hard pressed to increase our members equity. Farmway had $4.1 million in earnings for the year from total consolidated sales of $524 million. Based on those results the board of directors has decided to allocate $3.5 million in patronage with $800,000 of that being paid out100 % cash as qualified patronage. The remaining $2.7 million will be allocated to non-qualified patronage. Farmway will assume the cash tax obligation, he said.
Duerksen listed the purpose and value propositions that were completed this past year as the following: They completed the Glen Elder train loader project. However, one-third of their grain storage capacity is presently in bunkers and they hope to increase permanent storage facilities in the future. The board policies have been revised to better suit the needs of the Cooperative and the by-laws and articles have also been revised.
The CEO said they have improved their safety program and the Ag-Mark office has been relocated to provide more room at the main office as well as for the Ag-Mark office. Their arial application program has become more intense since they are putting on more fungicides applications. They have purchased a hanger and loading pads at the Beloit Airport to make this project more cost effective. Change is hard even if it is a good change. We have a lot of good young producers coming up in this area and we need to find good young employees to help them move forward, he said.
Challenges the President/CEO listed include sales growth, expanding our footprint and increasing our grain n markets, weather drought and recovery, and volatility in the markets. "Why do we need to grow?" he asked. "Because every bushel we gain is an increased asset.
Directors Elected included: Darrell Schroeder, Steve Errebo, Jacob Porter and Rich Chaffee.
Mike Jordan, Board Secretary, presented plaques to the two members leaving the board this year including Roger Suelter and Keith Portenier. Retiring Board President, Allen Eilert, is also leaving the board and was presented a special plaque for his four years as an associate board member, twenty-one years as a regular board member and eleven years as board president.
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