COTTAGE GROVE, WISCONSIN, US — Landmark Services Cooperative and Countryside Cooperative’s proposed merger has been approved and will go into effect March 1, 2021.
The two Wisconsin, US-based, member-owned cooperatives will now serve more than 26,000 members and employ over 800 people. The combined organization will be headquartered in Cottage Grove, Wisconsin, US, and the cooperatives will continue to maintain operations and staff at multiple locations.
“The management team at Countryside is pleased that our member producers voted yes on the merger with Landmark Services Cooperative,” said Frank Brenner, chief executive officer of Countryside. “When I came to Countryside in 2014, I made the statement that by 2020, our cooperative would need to achieve $500 million in sales to continue being a viable long-term business to serve our members while remaining profitable. The formation of this new company provides both cooperatives the size and scale needed to achieve this strategic objective to remain relevant well into the future.”
The merger allows for an expanded footprint and ability to serve Southern and West-Central Wisconsin, Northern Illinois, Eastern Iowa, and Eastern Minnesota, the new coop. It also provides the opportunity for the merged cooperatives to offer benefits, including logistics opportunities, sharing of agronomy assets and backup feed mill options.
“The board of directors feels positive about this decision to merge with a strong company like Landmark Services Cooperative,” said John Creaser, chairman of Countryside. “This decision allows Countryside to compete within the ag industry while being profitable and protecting our members’ equities.”
When exploring merger possibilities, the two cooperatives said they gravitated toward each other due to similar goals, including: savings through procurement opportunities, safeguarding membership equities through capital asset management and rationalization, increased sales, and lower operating costs.
“For both cooperatives, this is an important chapter added to our histories of growth,” said Jim Dell, CEO of Landmark. “We recognize that with any major change, there will be a lot of hard work, challenges that are met, and hurdles to clear along the way, but our members have the unwavering commitment of both boards and leadership teams that this merger will be a success.”
Moving forward the new cooperative will focus on becoming a leader in technology so it can streamline operations, enhance efficiencies, and improve the member experience.
“Joining the resources of two long-standing, successful cooperatives will increase our competitive advantage and drive value to our members and employees,” said Jim Lange, chairman of Landmark.
The new cooperative will be led by Dell as CEO. He will work with Frank Brenner to ensure a smooth transition.
The board also will make several changes to create a successful merger integration. Initially, the board will consist of 10 directors, composed of six directors from the Landmark region and four directors from the Countryside region. Eventually, the board will evolve to have a total of eight seats, with five directors from Landmark and three from Countryside.
“Landmark and Countryside are committed to helping our members, employees, and communities thrive,” Lange said. “We owe it to our stakeholders to pursue opportunities that will strengthen their local coops, and we believe this merger will accomplish that and more.”