The Southwest now boasts Saskatchewan’s second largest retail Co-op after the Pioneer Co-op membership voted to merge with the Shaunavon Co-op.
A special vote was held on October 26 at the Innovation Credit Union iPlex, with an 81-2 margin of the Pioneer Co-op members in attendance in favour of the merger. The formal date for the amalgamation will be February 4, 2018.
The new cooperative will boast a combined membership of 23,326 members, $191 million in assets, plus 595 employees situated in 30 locations within 18 communities.
“One regional Co-op for the whole Southwest makes a lot of sense,” explained Shaunavon Co-op General Manager Kevin Braun, who was on hand for Thursday’s vote.
The Shaunavon Co-op, which boasts operations in Shaunavon, Eastend and Bracken, took a vote to their membership on October 17 following a long information process to their membership. A total of 309 members voted in Shaunavon, with just over 80 per cent of the membership in favour of the merger.
“This process has been a while. We first met with the executive of Pioneer back in February, and once both boards agreed to go forward a feasibility was done,” Braun explained.
The Federated Co-op feasibility study outlined many reasons for proceeding with a merger.
Braun said the membership was also in favour of the amalgamation to strengthen the benefits gained by Co-op members.
“Our members showed us that our allocations weren’t where they should be. We spent some dollars on some facilities, our new Home and Agro and a Card Lock coming and field trucks. So our allocations were a little soft compared to Pioneer’s.”
Pioneer Co-op General Manager Stu Dyrland agreed the amalgamation will be a benefit to their members.
“We put a lot of work together to make sure when you’re merging with another cooperative that it’s not negative for either one,” he said. “And that’s why at this time it’s very timely for the two cooperatives because they’re very similar as far as their debt-to-asset ratios.”
Dyrland noted that Pioneer is excited to have a reach across the entire Southwest starting early next year.
“It’s always nice to be able to work together and not worrying about what area you’re in,” he said. “It’s going to make it nice for everybody. Customers will be able to travel anywhere in the Southwest and use one number. I think that will be very positive.”