SALEM, Ohio — The members of Agland Co-op and Heritage Cooperative have voted to approve the merger between the two Ohio-based organizations. The vote was announced Feb. 13, with 67 percent of Heritage members in favor, and 83 percent approval from Agland members. The new co-op will carry the Heritage name.
Both cooperatives announced their intent to merge in a June 2016 action, citing the benefits of combining services and leadership.
Jeff Osentoski, president and CEO of Agland, said the vote shows “members’ commitment for moving forward and putting together a great co-op for the future.”
The effective date of the merger is Sept. 1. Osentoski will remain president, and become chief executive officer following the retirement of Heritage CEO Eric Parthemore, who plans to retire Nov. 1 or before.
Osentoski said the decision does not involve any planned facility closures. He said leaders from both co-ops will be working the next few months to have staff in place before the Sept. 1 effective date.
Lamar Liming, chairman of the Agland board, said both co-ops were in good financial condition, but saw the merger as an opportunity to better serve farmers, and to maintain co-op employees and facilities.
“Neither co-op had to merge,” Liming said. “We’re both in good financial conditions.”
Liming said the central office will be Heritage’s main office in West Mansfield.
In a Feb. 13 letter to co-op members and employees, the chairmen of both co-op boards said the merger will “create a dynamic organization built for the future.”
The letter promises to keep members informed, as policies, people and procedures are put together over the next few months.
Both companies have conducted mergers in the past. Agland merged with the Green Valley Co-op, of Marietta, in April 2014.
Heritage Cooperative is a member-owned cooperative founded in 2009 by the consolidation of Champaign Landmark, of Urbana, and The Farmers Commission Co., of Upper Sandusky.
Heritage serves a 20-county area in central Ohio, extending from Harding and Wyandot counties to the north, and Pickaway and Madison counties to the south. The cooperative includes 30 locations and serves more than 3,500 farmer members, and more than 4,000 rural and urban customers.
Agland Co-op is based in New Philadelphia, and serves customers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Illinois and Kentucky. Agland was originally established in 1933, in Canfield, Ohio, and now has 23 locations and serves more than 1,900 farmer members.
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I hope the Heritage stockholders and employees know what awaits them. Mr. Osentoski is not known for conducting business as expected in the co-operative system.