Merger of Landmark and Countryside cooperatives approved

Wisconsin State Farmer
Merger of Landmark and Countryside cooperatives approved.

A merger between two Wisconsin-based cooperative is official.

Members of the Countryside Cooperative approved the merger with Landmark Services Cooperative effective March 1.

According to a news release, 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 $600 million. The combined organization will be headquartered in Cottage Grove, WI, and the cooperatives will continue to maintain operations and staff at multiple locations.

“The management team at Countryside is pleased that our member producers voted yes on the merger with Landmark Services Cooperative,” said Countryside CEO Frank Brenner. “When I came to Countryside in 2014, I made the statement that by 2020, our cooperative would need to achieve $500 million 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.”

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. 

“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.

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.