United Cooperative patron members joined together in standing ovation at the cooperative's annual meeting for United Cooperative President and Chief Executive Officer David Cramer. Cramer was recognized for his 30-year anniversary as leader of the Beaver Dam, WI-based cooperative at the April 8 meeting in Juneau, WI.
"United Cooperative has had only three managers in our 78-year history," said Howard Bohl, United Cooperative Board of Directors chairman. "David started with United Cooperative in 1984, when the cooperative recorded $7 million in sales."
During this year's annual meeting, Cramer reported sales for 2013 at almost $630 million. In addition, before taxes, United Cooperative achieved a net income of more than $50 million, an increase of more than $16 million from 2012.
"David Cramer is one of those people who has a vision of what he wants to accomplish; but, he stands out from the rest because he has the drive and ambition to accomplish that goal," Bohl said. "David has driven this cooperative to levels of success never expected."
Bohl, Beaver Dam, was chairman of the United Cooperative Board of Directors when Cramer was hired. "In the interview, David Cramer quickly struck us as somebody exceptional," Boh said. "He came on board at United Cooperative in the 80s, a time when farming was experiencing a lot of problems, and when both farming and cooperatives were changing — it was the opportune time to hire David."
"David's philosophy was very clear," said David Bischoff, the only United Cooperative board member who sat on the board when Cramer was hired and remains there today. "First we build on our core business areas. Then, through mergers and private business acquisitions, we enlarge our trade areas. Finally, we diversify the company so we spread the risk."
Since Cramer started with United Cooperative, the company has merged with or acquired about 20 different businesses. Most recently, Hillsboro Farmers Cooperative Warehouse, formerly of Hillsboro, joined the United Cooperative family in October of 2013.
"While staying true to the cooperative's core business of feed, grain, agronomy, and energy, Cramer spearheaded efforts to get more involved with convenience stores, the restaurant business and corn-ethanol production with co-products and byproducts," added Bischoff. "All these ideas were David's; he built what we have today, and I'm glad I could be a part of it."
United Cooperative employs about 650 full-time, part-time and seasonal employees throughout Wisconsin, and Cramer never forgets the people who helped him achieve his success.
"We have a tremendous team of employees who work together very well … they always have the interest of our customers in mind, too," said Cramer during the annual meeting.
John Scheuers, United Cooperative vice president of feed operations, has been one of these employees since 1991. "David Cramer is a person with a great vision for the agriculture industry," he said. "His focus has always been to work hard, generate profits for both the patrons and the cooperative, and create business efficiencies while treating people honestly. David has been a true leader in the industry; his results at the cooperative speak for themselves."
Although it appears like Cramer is approaching retirement, he has other ideas in mind: "I'm not done, yet; there's still much more work to do, and I'm looking forward to it."
Formed in 1936, United Cooperative is a full-service cooperative offering feed, grain, agronomy and energy products and services to Wisconsin farmers and consumers. United Cooperative has locations in Auroraville, Baraboo, Beaver Dam, Bonduel, Deerfield, Denmark, Gresham, Hartford, Hillsboro, Horicon, Hustisford, Iron Ridge, Johnson Creek, Kendall, Mayville, Ontario, Pickett, Poynette, Prairie du Sac, Pulaski, Reedsburg, Ripon, Rock Springs, Sauk City, Shawano, South Beaver Dam, Watertown, Wilton, Wonewoc, Wyocena and Yuba. For more information, visit www.unitedcooperative.com.