Farm Horizons, August 2013

Waconia Farm Supply looks forward to Sept. 1 merger

By Starrla Cray

In a few short weeks, the merger between Waconia Farm Supply (WFS) and United Farmers Cooperative (UFC) will be formally in effect, a decision almost 90 percent of voters favored.

“We hope to not only maintain all the services Waconia has, but also offer more services, such as additional farm equipment lines and additional feed manufacturing services,” UFC General Manager Jeff Nielsen said.

April 1, members of the WFS co-op voted to combine all WFS assets into UFC’s cooperative business, effective Sept. 1.

“We had a terrific voter turnout,” Nielsen said, adding that about 450 farmers were eligible.

Because it is a merger by acquisition, UFC’s members did not participate in the vote.

“If we do our jobs right, the customer should never see the difference, and there will only be positive changes,” Nielsen said.

The Waconia Farm Supply name will still be utilized, as a division of UFC. With annual sales of about $50 million, WFS is the largest company UFC has acquired.

Next year, UFC will have more than 400 employees, and sales are expected to exceed $400 million.

“We are a family of small companies joined together,” Nielsen said.

UFC began in 1915 as the Cooperative Creamery Association of Lafayette, switching to its current name in 1995. Today, the organization includes multiple locations throughout Minnesota, offering services in farm and grain equipment, feed, energy, and agronomy.

UFC was Waconia Farm Supply’s first choice for a merger. Other co-ops considered included Centra Sota Cooperative of Buffalo, Hutchinson Co-op, Mid County Co-op of Cologne, and Genesis of Le Center.

According to an article in the Le Sueur News-Herald, about 40 percent of WFS members had equity in both WFS and UFC.

At UFC, equity can be cashed out at age 69; and Nielsen said he hopes they’ll be able to lower the age to 67 at some point. All equity in WFS will be switched to UFC, with no losses.

“This merger allows all the members of both companies to benefit,” Nielsen said. “We really believe this will enhance our ability to remain viable well into the future.”

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