Farm Horizons, Feb. 2011
Mid-County Coop: 75 years and counting
By Starrla Cray
When Mid-County Coop started in 1935, it didn’t quite look the way it does today.
“We have gone from a strictly agricultural business to a more diverse business, such as convenience stores, large truck repair, propane for heating, bulk lubricants, and supplying fuel to several different businesses,” Mid-County’s general manager Bill Reimers said. “In the agricultural business, we have been leaders in precision agriculture.”
Mid-County Coop’s original investment was $890, and the company is now worth $5,097,550.
In the more than 23 years that Reimers has been at Mid-County, he’s had the privilege of seeing the company’s net worth grow from $1 million to $5 million.
Reimers said he often thinks about the local farmers who started Mid-County Coop.
“What a leap of faith it must have been to take their precious dollars in the Depression era, to start a new co-op,” Reimers noted. “It was obviously something they really believed in.”
Customers and employees
Mid-County is a cooperative, which means its patrons receive a portion of their purchases back in dividend checks each year.
During his time as manager, Reimers said he’s enjoyed learning from loyal customers who care about the co-op.
“They always let you know how you are doing and how to improve,” Reimers said.
An endless number of people contributed to Mid-County’s success, but a few names stand out.
“Henry Leikam, Joe Salden, and Wilfred Schmitz were the leaders long before my time who helped make this a solid company,” Reimers said.
Mid-County Coop is one of the larger employers and taxpayers in the area, and its employees serve the community through several different organizations.
Many workers have been around for years, but others recently joined the team.
The newest employee is convenience store assistant manager Sue Reich, who lives with her family in Cologne. Reich enjoys volunteering in the community, ice fishing, and gardening.
The convenience store was rebuilt in Cologne in 1995, and in 2009, Mid-County Coop franchised it with Holiday.
This year, the convenience store will also feature an expanded deli selection.
Times of change
In the first 25 years of operation, a few of Mid-County Coop’s achievements included the establishment of a gasoline outlet in Waconia, a bulk petroleum storage facility in Watertown (which was sold in 1957), a service station in Mayer (which was sold in 1948), a $13,833 service station in Cologne, and a bagged fertilizer warehouse in Cologne for $2,500.
The most recent 50 years have been filled with changes, as well, with the purchase of several companies.
A relatively recent purchase (December 2008) was the bulk fuel route of Mayer Distributing in Long Lake. In October 2009, Mid-County also acquired the lubricants portion of the business.
Reimers said he is looking forward to helping Mid-County Coop continue to grow, in both agricultural and non-agricultural sectors.
“Customers have a strong belief in their co-op,” Reimers said. “Add to that quality employees and a commitment to serving our patrons with honesty, integrity, and value, and it is a winning combination.”
Current board members of Mid-County Coop are Shawn Eastman, David Williams, Brian Krause, Leonard Hoen Jr., Paul Stuewe, Jim Dieball, and Tim Zellmann.
To learn more about Mid-County Coop, go to www.midcountycoop.com or call 888-466-3700.