Landmark Services Cooperative and Countryside Cooperative merger approved

Landmark Services Coop
Following a "yes" vote, Wisconsin-based cooperatives Landmark Services and Countryside will merge in March 202.

Marking a key milestone in the merger of two Wisconsin-based cooperatives, Countryside members have voted "Yes" to confirm the merger between Landmark Services Cooperative and Countryside Cooperative. Now that the merger has been approved, it will go into effect at 12:01 a.m. CST on March 1, 2021.

The new cooperative will serve more than 26,000 members, employ over 800 people (includes full-time, part-time and seasonal), and generate annual sales in excess of $600M. The combined organization will be headquartered in Cottage Grove, WI, and the cooperatives will continue to maintain operations and staff at multiple locations.

“When I came to Countryside in 2014, I made the statement that by 2020, our cooperative would need to achieve $500M in sales to continue being a viable long-term business to serve our members while remaining profitable. The formation of this new company provides both cooperatives the size and scale needed to achieve this strategic objective to remain relevant well into the future,” said Countryside CEO Frank Brenner.

With an expanded geographical footprint covering Southern and West-Central Wisconsin, Northern Illinois, Eastern Iowa, and Eastern Minnesota, the new coop will offer benefits including innovative logistics opportunities, sharing of agronomy assets, and backup feed mill options.

"The board of directors feel positive about this decision to merge with a strong company like Landmark Services Cooperative. This decision allows Countryside to compete within the ag industry while being profitable and protecting our members’ equities," said Countryside Chairman John Creaser.

During the merger exploration process, Landmark and Countryside identified primary impact areas that include savings through procurement opportunities, safeguarding membership equities through capital asset management and rationalization, increased sales, and lower operating costs.

The new cooperative will have a strong focus on becoming a leader in technology so it can streamline operations, enhance efficiencies, and improve the member experience. It will also have a greater ability to attract and retain talented employees via an increased investment in employee development and training.

"Joining the resources of two long-standing, successful cooperatives will increase our competitive advantage and drive value to our members and employees," said Landmark Chairman Jim Lange.

Both cooperatives have a long history of charitable contributions and recognize the importance of giving back to the community by supporting local organizations. That same commitment will be part of the new cooperative.

Continuity of leadership with both the CEO and the board of directors will play a critical role during the merger integration process. Dell will serve as the new cooperative's CEO, and he will work with Countryside CEO Frank Brenner to ensure that the unification is a success. Initially, the board will consist of 10 directors, composed of six directors from the Landmark region and four directors from the Countryside region. Eventually, the board will evolve to have a total of eight seats, with five directors from Landmark and three from Countryside.

"Landmark and Countryside are committed to helping our members, employees, and communities thrive," said Lange. "We owe it to our stakeholders to pursue opportunities that will strengthen their local coops, and we believe this merger will accomplish that and more."