SALEM, Ohio — Heritage Cooperative and Agland Co-op announced June 22 that they are negotiating a possible merger of the two cooperatives.
Both cooperatives boards of directors have entered into a letter of intent to work toward an agreement of merger.
Eric Parthemore, Heritage CEO and president, said the merger is being done out of opportunity, not necessity.
“Both organizations are very strong organizations,” he said. “Neither one needs to merge. They do so because, strategically, down the road, it makes the organization much stronger.”
Agland CEO Jeff Osentoski said the decision “was all about creating value for the farmer owners.”
Osentoski said no layoffs were being planned as a result of the merger.
Lamar Liming, chairman of the Agland board, said Agland and Heritage currently serve different parts of Ohio, and he expects current facilities will remain open.
Liming said the merger “helps our whole organization. It helps with our agronomy, our feed, our grain. It brings value to our membership.”
According to a joint statement, the boards of both cooperatives believe a merger provides more opportunity to diversify risks and expand member benefits.
Parthemore said Agland and Heritage share similar cultural values, but provide different services to different parts of the state. By merging, they’ll be able to bring everything under one entity, including leadership.
Plans are still being worked out, but he said it looks like he’ll be CEO for the first three months, to a year, pending his age-based retirement, and then Ostenoski would take over.
Parthemore said both boards have approved the deal, but co-op members must also vote before the agreement is finalized. He anticipates the vote and ratification will be done by early 2017.
About the companies
This is not the first merger for either company. Agland board members voted to merge 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 Hardin 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. Agland has 23 locations and serves more than 1,900 farmer members.