Kettle Lakes Co-op announces merger plans

The Board of Directors at Country Visions Cooperative and Kettle Lakes Cooperative have formally signed letters of intent to pursue a merger of the cooperatives.

Discussions started as an agreement between the two cooperatives and their agronomy divisions for a joint venture in a new facility, but developed into merger talks as the possible efficiencies were realized for all divisions within their operations.

Kettle Lakes Cooperative, which features a hardware store and fertilizer facility in Sheboygan Falls, is a farm supply company in eastern Wisconsin currently operating just south of the Country Visions trade area.

According to Country Visions Cooperative Agronomy Marketing Specialist Jennifer Kuffel, the Kettle Lakes Co-op hardware store in Sheboygan Falls will remain open following the merger.

However, Kuffel stated that the Kettle Lakes Co-op fertilizer facility in Sheboygan Falls will be shut down.

Kettle Lakes’ sales of $40 million comes from divisions including agronomy, grain, feed and retail. Kettle Lake, which is based in Random Lake, is also a 50-percent owner of Co-Energy Alliance, which sells petroleum and propane to area customers.

Country Visions is a farm supply Cooperative operating in eastern Wisconsin and in the upper peninsula of Michigan.

It has sales of $158 million from divisions including agronomy, grain, petroleum, propane and retail stores. Country Visions is also a 60 percent owner of CP Feeds, which manufactures and sells over $146 million in feed to area farmers.

Under terms of the merger agreement, the Kettle Lakes Cooperative voting membership will vote on June 30.

According to Country Visions CEO Steve Zutz, if approved by the membership, the joint organization will begin business on September 1, 2017.

“There will be membership informational meetings prior to the vote in June to discuss the specifics of the plan of merge,” said Zutz.

Both board members and management of the two successful cooperatives feel the merger will enhance the value of the cooperative to the membership. Better purchasing power and new joint operations will drive efficiencies for the business. The two cooperatives had already announced the building of a new state-of-the-art agronomy facility in the industrial park in Plymouth.

The new plant will enable the cooperatives to continue to deliver the goods and services the customers have come to appreciate from their businesses.

A goal of completion in early 2018, would put the plant in operation before next year’s spring planting season.

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