Wilmont-Adrian Co-op merger with New Vision deemed win-winWILMONT — Several months after the board of Wilmont-Adrian Cooperative began looking for an opportunity to merge or partner with another grain handling facility, work is now under way to make it a reality.
By: Julie Buntjer, Worthington Daily Globe
WILMONT — Several months after the board of Wilmont-Adrian Cooperative began looking for an opportunity to merge or partner with another grain handling facility, work is now under way to make it a reality.
Last week, the membership of Wilmont-Adrian Co-op voted to merge with New Vision, headquartered in Worthington. Nearly 55 percent of Wilmont-Adrian Co-op patrons voted, with the final tally showing 79 percent in favor of the merger.
The merger by acquisition takes effect Sept. 1. All of the Wilmont-Adrian Co-op locations will continue to operate as usual, and all Wilmont-Adrian employees will be retained in the merger.
Gene Metz, Wilmont-Adrian Co-op board president, said his board decided in February to send out requests for proposals to eight different cooperatives.
“We had some short-term issues and some long-term,” he said, adding that Wilmont-Adrian was in search of more expertise in grain procurement, grain marketing and human resources, as well as more technology in the agronomy division. Rail access was also key in the board’s search for a partner.
“New Vision brought the most things to the table that we were interested in,” Metz said. Also, since New Vision already had numerous locations in the area, there wouldn’t be a lot of duplication of service.
“They bring a larger and cheaper capital source to us for grain marketing,” he added. “Being larger volume, we can spread our costs over a larger basis.”
It was also important to Wilmont-Adrian that their facilities continue to be utilized. The cooperative has grain facilities in Wilmont, Adrian, Lismore and Ellsworth, along with a feed mill and agronomy center in Lismore and a Farm Service Center in Wilmont.
“Our agronomy center will work as a satellite for (New Vision’s) main warehouse at Brewster,” said Metz. “All of our other sites have fairly up-to-date grain structures.”
“We at New Vision are very happy — it’s a win-win situation for both companies,” said Don Bork, New Vision Cooperative board president. “They had a very good business over there — very good patrons, very loyal patrons.”
Bork said because the two cooperatives worked in such close proximity, there were customers that did business with both entities.
“With the changes in agriculture and the demand for more services, it just made sense,” Bork said. “New Vision was a little larger than they were. With smaller co-ops, it’s harder to get the capital together to provide the services.”
Bork said both cooperatives have their fiscal year-end on Aug. 31, and they both utilize the same auditor, which will make the transfer of the books a “real clean merger.”
Metz, along with Chad Wieneke and Chuck Hoffman, will join the 11-member New Vision board of directors, which meets on nearly a monthly basis. Wieneke will serve a one-year term, Hoffman a two-year term and Metz a three-year term. The remaining six Wilmont-Adrian board members will serve on New Vision’s advisory board.
The last time New Vision Cooperative completed a merger was in 2003, when the membership of Hills-Beaver Creek cooperative approved joining the New Vision family.
“We were not forced to do this, but realized it was probably a prudent thing to start looking at,” said Metz of the merger. “We found the right partner to move ahead, and we know we’ve done that.