The North Bend Eagle


 

Husker, Frontier co-ops merging

by Nathan Arneal
Published 10/2/12

North Bend’s two co-ops sit just about a block apart on the southwest edge of town, but that distance is about to be reduced to zero.

Husker Coop and Frontier Cooperative Company have announced a merger between the two companies that will take effect Jan. 1, 2014, under the name of Frontier Cooperative Company.

North Bend co-opsHusker Coop anhydrous tanks sit not far from Frontier Coop's grain elevator on the west end of North Bend.

The merger became official on Friday, when Husker Coop members voted to accept the deal with 82 percent of the voters approving.

Frontier Coop is based in Brainard and has facilities in 14 area towns. Husker Coop has its main office in Columbus, with locations in 10 towns. North Bend is one of three towns, along with Schuyler and Silver Creek, that has both a Frontier and Husker co-op.

Frank Pollard, the manager of Husker Coop in North Bend, said the merger will be a good thing for area farmers. North Bend’s Frontier Coop is mostly a grain operation, while the Husker Coop deals more in fertilizer and other crop inputs. As such, there aren’t a lot of redundancies between the two North Bend co-ops, and combining the two companies should result a larger co-oop offering more services.

“North Bend is a very strong agricultural community,” Pollard said, “and Frontier is very excited to get the ag side of the business. They have grain, but they’ve never really had an Ag retail plant as far as fertilizer and chemical in North Bend. So they’re excited to get that part of the business.”

Many of the details of the merger have yet to be worked out, but Pollard said he expects updates to the Husker Coop facilities to be a part of the package.

“There’s been talk of adding a new dry building and updating our anhydrous facilities,” he said. “The farmers can plant and apply fertilizer so much faster than they could 20 years ago, and we have to try to match up with how fast they can apply. With this merger I think we’ll be able to accomplish a lot of these things a lot faster now.”

Frontier Cooperative Company, formerly Farmers Cooperative Company, was established in 1915. The company experienced growth and acquisitions for several decades, and in 1990 the Frontier Cooperative Company brand was established.

Husker Coop, formerly Farmers Coop Grain, was incorporated in 1921 in Osceola. Husker Coop currently operates six grain elevators, three feed mills, seven dry fertilizer plants, three liquid fertilizer plants (with liquid storage at all 10 locations), two service stations, and one convenience store.

Pollard said the topic of employees hasn’t really been breached yet, but he expects that most everyone who worked for Husker Coop will have a place in the new Frontier Coop, even if it is under a new job title.

“We were just told, ‘If you’re needed now, why wouldn’t you be needed after the merger?’” Pollard said. “It may not be in the same capacity, but finding employees is tough in the agricultural business. If you are employed now and doing a good job, there’s no reason why you’re not going to have a position down the road.”

Randy Robeson is the general manager of Frontier Cooperative.

“This unification means a better future for both companies,” Robeson said. “Our goal in all of this has been to do what is in the best interest for our personnel, our customers, and future generations of our cooperative. The No. 1 reason to merge companies is to be able to provide for future generations. We want to be able to bring in the younger generation, show a career, and hire the right people.”

Pollard, the North Bend manager at Husker Coop, said he expects cooperation to begin between the two North Bend sites even before the official merger date in January.

“Change is always exciting,” he said, “and I think this is going to benefit our customers and be a big plus for North Bend. Overall, it’s a win situation for everybody.”

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