Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, Feb. 19, 2001

Centra Sota purchases Lake Region's agronomy

With handshakes at the Jan. 31 closing, Centra Sota Cooperative purchased the agronomy division of Lake Region Co-op Oil Association.

"We're a farmer-owned cooperative dedicated to serving growers in Wright County," Centra Sota Agronomy Manager Sean Ness explained. "This purchase puts us in a position to offer better service while being sustainable in the business."

Lake Region's board of directors had announced their decision to sell the agronomy division Centra Sota purchases Lake Region Co-op agronomy division

in October.

"We considered several bids," Lake Region General Manager Brian Yager said.

"When Lake Region made the decision to sell, we looked at it as an opportunity," Centra Sota General Manager Jeff Johnson said. "It was a very good fit geographically. The agronomy business from Lake Region was right in the middle of what we already had."

This acquisition, Ness said, increases their facilities from five to seven and will account for about 23.5 percent of their $17 million agronomy budget.

Included in the sale are the lands and facilities in Cokato and Clear Lake plus rolling stock including the floating sprayers and other equipment. Centra Sota will be leasing the Maple Lake property and facilities south of the railroad tracks off Oak Avenue, from Lake Region.

According to Yager, the five full-time employees in the agronomy division were hired by Centra Sota to continue in their positions.

"And we agreed to share employees at different times of the year," Johnson added.

"When our LP slows down around April," Yager said, "the agronomy kicks into full gear and so, Centra Sota will pick up our staff for that time."

"It's a win-win situation for both cooperatives," Johnson said.

"It will offer more gainful employment for the seasonal staff and the benefits that could go with it," Ness added. "As cooperatives, this is a giant step. The agreement we've established between two formerly competitive cooperatives will continue to open doors."

Johnson suggested this acquisition for Centra Sota will eliminate overlap that has existed for years between the two cooperatives.

"Key to the transition will be our employees. Our goal is for our customers to see enhanced service. It's our number one goal."

Agronomy customers will continue to find service in Maple Lake in the same location and at the same phone numbers as when part of Lake Region, 612-963-5238 or toll-free 877-791-1416.

Centra Sota's agronomy managers will be Jeff Lorentz in Cokato, Steve Carter in Maple Lake, Mark Lambert in Buffalo, Jeff Wheeler in Watertown, Steve Huff in Watkins, Ken Beehler in Santiago and Dale Mausehund in Eden Valley.

Formerly with Lake Region, Todd Holland, Chet Drewelow and Ozzie Hoeme will now also be members of Centra Sota's agronomy team.

Lake Region, established in 1931, as a farmers' cooperative, is continuing its plan of action outlined by Yager in last fall's Co-op Notes "to make our business profitable." Patrons (Lake Region) will hear more of the details of this sale and the co-op's future plans at their annual meeting Tuesday, April 10.


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