Farmers Supply Cooperative puts community first
Steve Mendiola, general manager of Farmers Supply Cooperative, based in Ontario, Oregon, believes a community-first approach embodies cooperative spirit and strengthens business relationships.
By Matthew Wilde
When a vicious snowstorm collapsed buildings and made roads impassable around Ontario, Oregon, Farmers Supply Cooperative aided recovery efforts. When a local 4-H group or the county fair needs a donation, the co-op contributes. And day after day, Farmers Supply delivers the crop inputs, energy products and services its farmer-owners and other customers need while providing local jobs and contributing economic strength.
October is National Co-op Month. It’s an annual opportunity to raise awareness of a trusted, proven business model and build resilient, inclusive communities.
Farmers Supply Cooperative, based in Ontario, embodies cooperative spirit. The co-op has agronomy locations in Vale, Oregon, and in Weiser, Cambridge and Council, Idaho. With annual sales of about $60 million, Farmers Supply also operates a gravel pit and four convenience stores, sells Cenex® energy products and provides aerial crop application services. It has about 1,250 members.
“We get behind almost every organization, club, church and high school in the region,” says Steve Mendiola, Farmers Supply general manager. “Since 1935, we’ve created relationships with our customers. We support the community and supply almost everything our customers want.”
Cooperatives have mutually beneficial relationships with owners, customers and communities, Mendiola says. Farmer-owners share in the financial success of co-ops through patronage and equity redemption. In turn, cooperatives support community organizations and lending a helping hand in time of need.
During December 2016 and January 2017, snowstorms dumped about 6 feet of snow on Ontario and the surrounding area. Roads were buried and buildings collapsed. More than 11,000 people needed help. Farmers Supply employees pitched in.
“We got our loaders, dump trucks and blades and started moving snow and cleaning up buildings around the valley,” Mendiola says.
Rachel Henderson, Farmers Supply convenience store operations manager, adds, “When somebody needs help, we help. It happens every winter when our employees are clearing snow from our parking lots — they clear snow from nearby houses, too.”
More than 30,000 agricultural cooperatives account for more than 2 million American jobs and generate more than $700 billion in annual revenue, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Ag cooperatives are found in every state, serving people in 10,000 communities.