Kettle Lakes Co-op to merge with Country Visions

Wisconsin State Farmer
Country Visions Cooperative

REEDSVILLE - Country Visions Cooperative has announced that at a special voter's meeting held on June 30 in Random Lake, the voting members of Kettle Lakes Cooperative approved by mail ballot, the merging of Kettle Lakes with Country Visions based in Reedsville.

The vote was approved by 80.7 percent of the Kettle Lakes members voting. The Country Visions Board of Directors approved the reverse triangular merger on behalf of their membership.

The newly merged Cooperative will begin business on Sept. 1, 2017. With pre-merger sales and membership being in the proportions that they were, the Co-op will be governed by the nine current Country Visions board members and three from Kettle Lakes.

Districts will be established to ensure representation throughout the trade territory. Member equity in the new Cooperative will go in at a dollar for dollar basis. If members have a dollar in either Cooperative they will have a dollar in the new Cooperative moving forward.

Construction has started on a new automated agronomy facility in the Plymouth industrial park to service both Cooperative’s customers in that trade territory. Construction will be completed by early 2018 and the facility will be ready for the 2018 planting season.

The newly formed Cooperative will maintain its 50% ownership in the energy joint venture, Co-Energy Alliance with Adell Cooperative, to service propane and fuel customers in the southern trade territory.

Country Visions ownership in CP Feeds will remain and offer feed products and services to customers in the southern area that is currently being served by Kettle Lakes. The mill in Random Lake will continue to service feed customers on a limited basis.

“The goal of the Cooperative will be to continue to provide a high level of service to the patrons. Many customers will be served by the same employees or location as they have been in the past with some changes that will take place as the efficiencies and rationalizations of the merger take effect over time,”

“Investments in facilities, technology and employees will need to be made to continue to provide a high level of service to our ever-changing industry," Steve Zutz, Country Visions CEO stated. "The Cooperative will be much better positioned to do so after this merger.”

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

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

Kettle Lakes sales of $40 million come from agronomy, grain, feed and retail divisions. Kettle Lakes also owns 50% of Co-Energy Alliance, which sells petroleum and propane to area customers. Located in eastern Wisconsin, Kettle Lakes is currently operating just south of Country Visions trade area.

Merger discussions prior to the vote dealt with some potentially tricky issues including a post-merger identity. Whose name would they use, or do they develop a new brand, logo, and more? A new name would require a great deal of financial resources to take on, and that money could be spent for improvements in facilities, technology or equipment instead.

The Boards decided to use Country Visions Cooperative as the name of the merged entity noting that the Country Visions Cooperative brand has a versatile quality, a larger brand presence on current assets, and would reduce changes of regulatory documents.

“The Board and employee group look forward to continuing to be your preferred supplier of agronomy, energy, feed, grain and retail products,” Zutz said. “Our success depends on our member’s and customer’s success and together we can grow into the future.”