North Central Co-op (NCC) and Ceres Solutions, LLP announced this week that their respective boards of directors have unanimously voted to proceed with a member vote on a merger between the two strong, Indiana-based cooperatives. The recommendation to merge comes after nearly 12 months of due diligence performed by a committee of patron-owners and co-op leaders. Their task has been to ensure the proposed merger is in the best interests of the local cooperative and its members. While the merger is strongly supported by the committee, the ultimate decision lies with the voting members who are the farmer-owners of each cooperative. Producers may cast their vote in person, or give proxy for their voice in the decision to be heard.
“Obviously, this is cooperative spirit in action. This is a very significant vote for us that will direct operations of our farmer-owned business in the future,” Ceres Solutions board chairman, Del Unger stated. In keeping with cooperative principles, all members are entitled to one vote, but those who are unable to attend the vote may give proxy to their local board to vote on their behalf. Informational packets including the proxy will be mailed on November 10 to all members. The vote will be held December 6, 7 and 8 for Ceres Solutions parent cooperatives and December 13 for NCC.
Both Ceres Solutions and NCC serve farmer-owners with similar structures, product and service offerings and go-to-market strategies. The consideration to merge two strong, successful cooperatives now is relevant as many organizations are seeking to gain synergies and strengths to prepare them to serve farmer-members in the future. “There are many dynamic changes occurring within the agricultural community today. We believe the pace of these changes will only accelerate as the next few years unfold. NCC has always taken the position that we must be proactive and not reactive to this reality. This will allow both cooperatives to continue to create long-term value for our patrons while continually serving their local needs,” said NCC CEO, Mark Tullis.
“As farmers, we face challenges of effectively utilizing resources, managing costs and strengthening operations for the long term,” said Rick Brubaker, board chairman of NCC. “Our cooperative is committed to evolving for the same reasons. The committee and board of directors feel this is a very positive step for our members,” he continued. Ceres Solutions President and CEO Jeff Troike expressed the enthusiasm Ceres Solutions and NCC leadership teams feel for the merger as well. “We’ve considered many options for this merger. The merger with NCC, with its emphasis on maintaining local control while delivering significant patronage and equity redemption returns, was determined to be most desirable for our members and employees alike,” said Troike. “We believe the strengths to be gained will be significant, and our customers should know: Our commitment to serving their local needs remains the same.”
Members of the respective cooperatives are invited to learn more about the proposed merger by attending one of the informational meetings in their respective area. Those meetings are posted on each of the cooperative sites at ncc.coop or ceresllp.com.