Grey-Bruce area co-operatives recommending merger

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Two area co-operatives plan to go to their members for a vote on a proposal to amalgamate.

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The boards of directors for the Huron Bay Co-operative Inc. and Wellington Co-operative Services are making a recommendation to their farmer owners to blend the two co-ops.

There will be a special meeting on April 7 at 7:30 p.m. at the Mildmay-Carrick Recreation Centre where members will be presented the amalgamation proposal to vote on it. All members of both the co-operatives are encouraged to attend to participate in the vote.

The co-ops are working on a strategy to on how to best merge the business operations, governance, finances, assets, departments and markets to explore further opportunities to strengthen their competitiveness and member-services, it said in a news release issued earlier this week.

“As a co-operative, and as neighbours, we already share a number of common goals,” North Wellington Co-operative Services board president Tim Summers said in the release. “We exist to serve our members; we’re owned and controlled by the people we serve, and we strive to provide the best agricultural and rural services in our market territories.”

The two co-ops have a combined membership of more than 8,500 farmers and rural residents, and more than 75 years of experience in Grey, Bruce, Huron and Wellington counties.

The Huron Bay Co-op has 2,500 members and provides agricultural-related products and services to customers in Bruce, Grey and north Huron counties. Its head office is located in Teeswater, with other locations throughout the region, including Chesley, Dundalk, Markdale, Mildmay, Walkerton, Owen Sound and Wiarton.

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The North Wellington Co-op has more than 6,000 members, with locations in Durham, Hanover, Harriston and Mount Forest.

Along with providing products, services and expertise in agronomy, energy and feed, the co-ops serve customers through their farm stores and garden centres.

“In today’s competitive climate, we feel it is prudent to explore our options to maintain and enhance our services to members and opportunities for employees while making the most of our resources,” Huron Bay Co-operative board president Ron De Visser said in the release. “As we work toward developing a recommendation on how to best merge business operations, it is also clearly understood that final decisions are controlled and governed by the member-owners of the co-op. We look forward to communication the great potential of this strategic direction at our members meeting.”

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