Someone once told me, the older you get the faster time goes. I am a believer! I have now been in my role over two years and it seems like yesterday when I started. Without a doubt, the best part of my job is the time spent getting to know more of our patrons. The time I spent with many growers this past year at various events, such as Discovery Plot Days, Customer Appreciation Days, and out on your farms, continues to be very rewarding. The one takeaway is that I still have a lot to learn.
I can't thank everyone enough for your time and patience as I continue to learn your business. I am proud of the progress we have made as partners, and I am confident the feedback we have received will continue to solidify our partnership.
The end of 2017 finds your co-op having an average year across all three sectors of our operation: agronomy, energy, and retail. On the agronomy side, our spring business was full of stops and starts and this fall we saw the same thing. We recognize the farm economy continues to get tighter and tighter and we continue to look for ways to reduce cost in all parts of our business. On the energy side, our margins were tighter than past years, as we continue to partner with growers on your energy inputs. We did make two acquisitions on the retail side, buying a convenience/country store in Mora and Scandia (MN). We believe these acquisitions help us on two fronts: solidifying our presence in the marketplace and growing our non-patronage business. When we grow non-patronage business we can leverage this profit to reduce our cost to serve on the agronomy and energy business.
As we move into 2018, we are laser focused on cost, service, and growing our business. We will continue working very hard to earn your trust across all the co-ops' service areas. The more business we have, the more leverage we have with our suppliers. So, if we haven't yet earned all your business and you need a bid on any aspect of your business - from agronomy, to energy, to your retail needs on items such as power equipment, feed, and farm needs - we are here to serve.
On behalf of all the Federated associates and Board of Directors, thank you for your patronage in 2017. We look forward to our partnership and I look forward to seeing you in 2018.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Mike McMahon, CEO