Lawrence-based Farmers Cooperative Assn. has harvested another northeast Kansas co-op.
The fast-growing cooperative this month purchased the Oskaloosa co-op in a deal that brings the Lawrence group another 500 members.
"It gets more competitive every year to stay in business," said Bob Gales, president and chief executive officer of Farmers Cooperative. "We began last fall looking at ways to help our producers a little bit more. As we went along, it looked like there were a lot of similarities. It looked like a good fit."
Besides the increase in membership, the deal brings the Lawrence co-op another grain elevator, plus bulk fuel operations, feed mills and support vehicles.
Prior to the deal, the Oskaloosa co-op operated as a branch of the Leavenworth County Cooperative Assn.
Gales said his organization purchased the assets of the Oskaloosa co-op and its members transferred accounts to Farmers Cooperative.
The deal gives the Lawrence co-op a total of 19 elevators and increases its grain storage capacity to nearly 12 million bushels. The Oskaloosa elevator can store about 260,000 bushels.
"Adding storage wasn't really one of our concerns," Gales said. "It was the similarity of the businesses, and we had a lot of overlap. If you look at it from our side, we were running over each other already."
From the Oskaloosa co-op's side, the deal will allow it to expand services and lower prices.
Farmers Cooperative provides complete grain handling, marketing, crop production services, feed manufacturing and delivery, and supplies to about 9,500 members and about 12,000 customers in 20 towns in Kansas and one in Missouri. It merged last fall with Pauline Farmers Cooperative Elevator and Supply Assn.
It had sales in fiscal year 1998 of $76 million.
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