Pioneer Co-op welcomed three new Directors and shared some good financial news with approximately 100 members who attended the 76th Annual General Meeting held Apr. 2 at the iplex auditorium.
“Our sales are up significantly from last year,” noted General Manager Stuart Dyrland of the $234,003,822 sales total, up 11 per cent from $210,647,233 in 2012.
“This is as a result of the amalgamation with Herbert, and as well an excellent year in agricultural commodities, along with most of the other departments meeting or exceeding budget.”
Dividend Days will take place June 3 to 8, and the patronage allocation to Pioneer's 23,240 members will be $11,748,999, an increase of $777,726 over $10,971,273 in 2012.
“Pioneer Co-op’s objective is to be competitive at the point of sale and then return consistent dividends to our members,” said Dyrland, noting cash back to members has been over $40 million in the past five years.
Acclaimed new Board members for three-year terms are Gayleen Turner of Swift Current, Gail Wesolowski of Swift Current and Linda Seifert of Consul.
Dyrland said highlights of the year included the Herbert Co-op amalgamation, as well as extensive renovations at several branches including Swift Current and Sceptre.
“The mall renovation is now complete and we have a facility second to none. It’s very easy to keep the store clean now. The new tiles, the new lighting and the new ceiling tiles have really brightened up this location.”
The new Pioneer Co-op Home Centre offers an inspiring environment in which to shop or create plans for new construction or renovations, adding to a fresh clean look throughout the entire store.
“It was a big year with the renovations. That was a lot of work, and it took a lot of money but we were able to come through with a good year and have been able to hold the allocations, so we’re really pleased with that. This was truly a team effort. Contractors were all very good to work with and had a genuine interest in improving this location. All our staff worked extra hard to get this completed.”
Renovations further afield included Sceptre.
“We are ready for business there with the upgraded hardware, convenience foods, convenience centre, crop supplies and qualified people to operate this facility.”
Maple Creek branch logged its second successful year with Pioneer and is on schedule for some food store upgrades in 2013. Consul will see improvements that will enhance their service as well.
“This is the second year for Pioneer to operate the Maple Creek location. It’s been a lot of planning going on in this area. This year we will see the renovation in the food store. It has been over 10 years since it was built and it is in need of a facelift, some new equipment, and this will definitely change the interior as it entails tiles and some new refrigeration.”
In Swift Current, the Agronomy and Tire centres have increased capacity to improve service.
“Our Agronomy Centre is a very valuable service to our growers and sales continue to grow. Again this year we will return 7.5 per cent back in equity and cash. In the tire shop we have expanded into our other building and we can now accommodate a full-length B-train in this shop together with the tractor.
“We’re getting closer to having our third chemical shed constructed. This will improve the space and safety of storing the crop supplies.”
Expansion of their fertilizer plant is nearly complete and will significantly improve the efficiency and reliability of the plant.
“It will be a lot faster and we’ve installed new blenders, hopper bins and conveyors. It should speed it up by at least half again as fast. Two 16-ton blenders should improve productivity quite substantially.”
Dyrland noted that Pioneer Co-op has two B-trains for delivery of granular fertilizer, and a liquid trailer for the delivery of liquid fertilizer. Fertilizer plant upgrades should be completed by Apr. 10. The Frontier plant has also seen upgrades.
“On the petroleum side, Pioneer Co-op runs four fuel trucks, four pups as well. This is again a changing industry with the farms getting larger … it is necessary to look at size of on-farm storage. We’d like to see at least a one-week supply for the farms’ busiest weeks. We have two tridents in our fleet, one in Cabri, one in Maple Creek. We’re studying the productivity of all of these units. As well we’ve added GPS tracking for tracking these units and the safety of the operators.
“Our refinery in Regina has had a significant upgrade, from 100,000 barrels per day to something in excess of 140,000 barrels per day.”
Sales have also been good in hardware, machinery, grain bins and fuel tanks, Dyrland observed, noting a trend to larger equipment, bins and fuel tanks as farms consolidate.
News from Federated Co-operatives Limited was reported by Marilyn McKee, FCL Director and Region Chair, highlighting expansion of the Regina refinery and the purchase of Tri West Exploration in 2012, which has improved supplies of crude oil.
“There were 31 new wells drilled in 2012, and so far in 2013 there have been 23 more wells drilled. … In the area of the refinery expansion … it is online and producing and the revamps are almost finished.”
Federated Co-operatives Limited has also re-introduced vintage branding based on trust, service and shared values, accompanied by the slogan “You’re at home here.”
“We have Branch stores in 14 locations,” said Dyrland, “and renovations take place on a regular basis and we are planning for improvements to the Branches. These will include new facilities, card locks, equipment, vehicles, a lot of times just a reset just to make sure we’ve got the right products in place, and a lot of planning that goes on to continue these services on an economic basis.”
He summarized, “I believe we have a system that works very well. We have put a significant amount of money back into our communities. The ownership structure of our community is unique and provides ownership benefits not only in the form of cash, but in the quality of products, the service and being available in communities, as well as the local employment that’s provided.”