With the unification vote by Cooperative Grain & Supply less than a week a way, the Free Press invited CG&S general manager Lyman Adams to respond to several questions about the proposal to unify with MKC.
FP: In a previous news release from CG&S, it was mentioned a couple of times that unification with MKC “would bring value to (CG&S) member-owners. What kind of increase are we talking about, and when and how does it occur?
ADAMS: Not in a monetary aspect, although we have clearly enhanced our ability to retire deferred equity with our balance sheet together. Members will actually see approximately 15 percent of their equity paid out early in cash if the memberships approve unification with MKC.”
FP: How many people does CG&S employ currently, and how will unification affect that number?
ADAMS: Today, CG&S employs 32 people. After unification, MKC is committed to employing all of the current employees. In fact, in previous mergers MKC has been a part of, the number of employees at locations based on services offered has actually increased.
FP: Related to that, will the current CG&S day-to-day operation change noticeably with unification?
ADAMS: The noticeable difference to customers will be the brand, including signage and uniforms. However, customers will still work with the same employees at the same locations as they do today.
FP: Jim Enns, CG&S board president, was quoted as saying, “the board strongly considered if Cooperative Grain & Supply had the size and scale to face the future.” What are, or were, some of the specific issues and challenges facing CG&S?
ADAMS: Topics include margin compression and increased expenses continue in every aspect of the agricultural industry today. We have fewer, larger growers and that trend will continue to increase.
Attracting and retaining employees is crucial. Employees today want advancement opportunities. Ability to keep assets and keep up with the pace of the growers. The maintaining of industry relevance is important. Continuing to redeem equity at the pace done in previous years.
FP: You were quoted as saying, “(Unification) will be a long-term benefit to our members, plus to our employees.” How will it benefit employees?
ADAMS: The ability to retain and recruit employees is critical. In a smaller cooperative, employees wear many hats. With a larger cooperative, employees can specialize and focus their responsibilities on what they want to do.
Clearly, a stronger organization should lead to more secure employment. A larger organization often focuses resources on employee development opportunities.
FP: Will unification bring about a new name for the expanded cooperative, or will it remain “MKC”?
ADAMS: The brand that MKC has today is widely recognized in the industry and carries a lot of value, which delivers value back to our members. The brand that MKC has built has led to opportunities from industry vendors to have first look at partnerships, new products and more.
Unification vote planned for Nov. 22
The special meeting of Cooperative Grain & Supply member-owners regarding the proposal to unify with MKC, including a membership vote, is planned for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 22, at Hillsboro Mennonite Brethren Church, 300 Prairie Pointe. Registration will begin at 6:30 p.m. “We urge our members to become informed and vote yes for this unification,” said Jim Enns, chair of the CG&S board of directors. “We believe this merger is good for the cooperative system, our members and our employees.”