We’re excited to announce that Landmark Services Cooperative (www.landmark.coop) and Countryside Cooperative (www.countrysidecoop.com) are exploring the opportunity for a merger. Both Boards of Directors and CEOs unanimously support this discovery process, and signed an official Letter of Intent on October 24, 2019, which provided the formal go-ahead to engage in this exploration process.
Throughout the merger exploration process, our primary focus is to determine whether joining the resources of two long-standing, successful cooperatives will build competitive advantages in ever-changing agricultural markets and increase value for our members and employees.
Landmark and Countryside are committed to helping our members, employees, and communities thrive. We owe it to our stakeholders to pursue opportunities that will strengthen their local coops, and we believe the proposed merger will accomplish that and more.
The questions and answers on this website will be updated each and every Friday during the exploration process and we recommend you bookmark this site and check back often.
Last Updated 4/02/2020
Q: How has the merger exploration been impacted by the current COVID-19 pandemic?
Both Landmark and Countryside agreed to slow the pace of the merger exploration to focus on maintaining operations and business continuity. As an essential business, it is important that we remain open and continue to support our members and customers by providing them with the products and services essential to their success. For more information on the impacts of COVID-19 and the ‘Safer at Home’ order, we encourage you to read the joint statement regarding the impact,
Q: Why are Landmark and Countryside exploring a merger?
We owe it to our members and employees to explore opportunities that will strengthen their local co-op and safeguard equities. Throughout the merger exploration, our primary focus is to determine if joining the resources of two long-standing, successful cooperatives will increase our competitive advantage in ever-changing local and global agriculture markets and drive increased value to our members and employees.
Q: Were the board of directors and CEOs of the cooperatives unified in this merger exploration?
Countryside’s and Landmark’s Board of Directors and CEOs unanimously support this merger exploration.
Q: When did the merger review start?
Both Board of Directors and the CEOs signed an official letter of intent on October 24, 2019, to engage in this review.
Q: How long will this merger review take?
There are no definitive timelines in place for the merger review.
Q: If the merger is approved, how will you handle the distance between your locations?
Though distance does provide a few challenges, it’s not a major factor. In fact, such geographical separation provides additional benefits and the opportunity for innovate practices regarding logistics resources (rail and river), allows us to share agronomy assets during fall and spring seasons, provides backup feed mill options, and gives us access to a larger talent pool in both areas (to both attract and retain talent). Video conferencing, instant messaging and other collaboration tools would be used for communication, and we’ll focus on the deployment of other technologies that provide efficiencies in all areas of the business.
Q: What impact will the merger review have on members and customers?
The review of the merger will not have any negative impact on our members, the solutions, services and products we deliver, or on the daily operations of Landmark or Countryside. Our unwavering commitment to our members and customers will remain priorities for both organizations.
Q: Will this merger review affect any of my current orders, contracts or services?
Both cooperatives are focused on our members, delivering on our promises, and continuing to supply quality service, products, and solutions. This merger review will not have a negative impact on how either cooperative services you today.
Q: If the merger is approved will you keep the Countryside or Landmark name, or will there be a new name for the cooperative?
If the merger is approved the newly formed cooperative will have a new name.
Q: What are the membership benefits that the cooperatives are focused on?
- Increased size and scale results in considerable procurement savings through increased purchase volumes. It also provides negotiation opportunities with our product partners and vendors with the opportunity to pass cost savings back to our members.
- Provides increased grain marketing opportunities.
- Able to offer our members expanded input financing options.
- Allows us to retain and attract the best employees.
- Increasing the value provided to our members by maximizing and utilizing our combined talents across all geographies while we continue to refine our solution offerings and service delivery capabilities.
- Allows us to leverage both cooperatives’ strong asset bases, focus on upgrades and improvements, and retire the aging and most costly and under performing assets.
- Improved logistics to reduce product delivery issues (including agronomy, energy, and animal nutrition) and minimize potential inventory shocks. Increases our opportunities to leverage river (Illinois, Mississippi), rail (CP, CN, UP) and truck transports for all divisions.
- Provides the opportunity to consolidate, fully utilize, and deploy new technologies that create greater efficiencies, optimize decision making, and improve our members’ experience and how they wish to do business with us.
- Offers our members a better “seat at the table” to be included in more national meetings and discussions as they’re positioned as a member-owner of a top cooperative group.
- Lowering operational and product costs, and introducing efficiencies, will result in a more stable and profitable cooperative, which translates directly to member patronage and the safeguarding and retirement of equities.
Q: What are the employee benefits that the cooperatives are focused on?
- Creates a more financially stable environment for our employees as we continue to work in an ever-changing and evolving agriculture market.
- Continued competitive salaries and benefits.
- Provides increased opportunities to learn and grow through expanded duties, training, and career advancement and development opportunities across an expanded geography.
- Pooling our talents and expertise makes the new cooperative stronger, providing a more stable foundation for all employees.
- Allows us to maximize the use of newer assets to help our employees better execute their job duties.
- Provides our employees the opportunity to be more efficient and better execute on their job duties through continued investment in technology.
- Ongoing focus on employee safety improvements to make sure everyone is home safe each night with their families.
- Expanded focus on solution offerings and the strategic value they will provide our members.
- Expanded input financing for our members provides the opportunity to increase business within one or all divisions while providing the financial flexibility our members need.
- Additional resources and assets to leverage across all divisions.
Q: What is a good resource to use to learn more about each cooperative?
Q: How would a merger affect patronage or patron equities?
It’s too early in the process to answer this question, but the goal is to create a more stable and profitable cooperative, which translates directly to member patronage and the safeguarding and retirement of equities.
Q: Are the cultures of both organizations similar?
Both cooperatives have very similar missions, visions and values driven by high integrity, exceptional customer service, employee and member safety, and a strong focus on member success and employee engagement.
Q: Will there be any facilities closed as part of the merger?
It’s too early in the process to answer this question, though there will be a thorough review of how all assets are performing and a determination as to if they will make a positive impact for a new cooperative.
Q: How will this impact the employees for both Countryside and Landmark
It’s too early in the process to answer this question, but as part of this merger review, we’ll look at options that increase organizational efficiencies and utilize the talented staffs from both cooperatives. Countryside and Landmark value our employees and are focusing on the benefits that a merger would bring to them. The Countryside and Landmark employee teams are the lifeblood of both organizations, and the continued service they provide will be the foundation of success for the new organization.
Q: Where are the Countryside and Landmark Facilities Located?
Q: What are the 2020 budgeted volumes for products / commodities for each cooperative?
For a complete breakdown of the 2020 budgeted volumes for products and commodities for each cooperative, we’ve put together a PDF to review. You can download it by clicking the below link:
Q: Who should I contact with questions?
You may reach out to any member of the cooperative leadership team that serves you, your representative on the board of directors, or to the CEOs of the cooperatives.
- John Creaser, Chairman (Region C) – 715.495.6882
- Larry Kuhl, Vice Chairman (Region A) – 715.529.4573
- Leslie Svacina, Director (Region B) – 651.261.3079
- Ken Gabler, Director (Region E) – 715.471.0400
- Tim Bates, Director (Region C) – 715.317.0030
- David Lundgren, Director (Region A) – 715.501.0913
- Steve Holle, Director (Region B) – 715.308.4690
- Lorn Heck, Director (Region D) – 715.926.3410
- John Rud, Director (Region D) – 715.495.2336
- Tammy Smith-Schroeder (Region E) – 715.828.5601
- Frank Brenner, Countryside CEO and General Manager, 715.672.8503 x1120, 715.650.7919
- Jim Lange, Chairman (Eastern District) – 414.881.9423
- Jon Prochnow, Vice Chairman (Northern District) – 920.210.9116
- Kevin Klahn, Secretary and Treasurer (Western District) – 608.576.6776
- Brian Brown, Director (At-Large) – 608.219.7031
- Keven Schultz, Director (Northern District) – 920.210.8344
- Max Wenck, Director (Eastern District) – 262.957.6500
- Sandy Larson, Director – (Western District) 608.290.5545
- Jim Dell, Landmark CEO and President – 402.469.1269