Sunrise and Trupointe Co-ops propose merger

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Combining soybeans

SALEM, Ohio — Members of the Sunrise and Trupointe cooperatives are considering a merger vote.

Both boards of directors have voted in favor of the merger. All 22 board members voted unanimously to recommend the merger to members.

Stockholders are receiving ballots in the mail and are making their choice. Completed ballots must be returned by 10 a.m. March 7 in order to be counted.

Trupointe Cooperative, headquartered in Piqua, Ohio, has 32 locations and 4,000 members in Ohio and Indiana. Sunrise Cooperative is headquartered in Fremont, Ohio, and has 10 locations. Both are owned 100 percent by farmer-members.

Timing is right

Sunrise Cooperative President and Chief Executive Officer George Secor said now is the time to combine forces with Trupointe Cooperative.

“We’ve never seen an opportunity like this before,” said Secor, adding both cooperatives are in the best financial condition they have been in for years.

“We both have the strongest balance sheets we’ve ever had,” said Secor.

Merger goal

He said many mergers happen when one or both entities have financial problems, which is not the case with this merger. Instead it’s about relevancy.

Secor said the goal of the merger is to make sure both Sunrise Cooperative and Trupointe Cooperative are relevant to farmers.

“We have to get ourselves in a position so that we are relevant in the future, not just today,” said Secor.

By combining, co-op leaders feel it will mean a better product lineup for both entities beyond seeds, fertilizer, seed and soil additives and data management.

He said the merger provides marketplace momentum, and will give access to key partnerships and product supply chains that are created directly from size and scale.

Secor said there is a major shift in the agriculture industry. For example, seed companies are changing hands and crop insurance companies are also set to make changes. This means that all agriculture companies need to be ready for what the future holds.

“We want to represent farmers at the marketplace. We can do that better together than what either one of them can do on their own,” said Secor.

Operating cost

Secor said farmers need lower operating costs with the low grain prices currently being paid on the market. But beyond price, farmers also need better yields.

“The price of the products is the same importance as it was five years ago, but yield is more important than it was five years ago,” Secor said.

By combining, the cooperatives can work to get the best prices on products and data management.

“We have got to know every producer’s farm so we can bring the best products for them to them,” said Secor. “That’s why we were formed in the first place.”

The benefits for the merger include a stronger equity and increased risk management. The new cooperative will have a larger geographic area, which will let it offset market risks and instability as well as weather elements.

As a combined entity, the cooperative would begin operations Sept. 1 under the leadership of Secor.

If approved by members, the merged cooperative will have a new board of directors as well. The board will then select the new entity’s name, as well as the corporate office location.

Both cooperatives are expected to make an announcement about the vote after the ballots are counted March 7.

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