Co-op agrees to merger

Members of two agricultural cooperatives, including one based in Seymour, approved a merger plan Thursday night.

The agreement between Jackson-Jennings Co-op and Premier Companies in Columbus creates a cooperative that spans much of southeastern Indiana and parts of Ohio and Kentucky.

It also creates a company of about $250 million, said Harold Cooper, CEO and general manager of Premier Companies.

The coverage area of Jackson-Jennings Co-op, founded by farmers in 1929, includes seven other counties besides Jackson and Jennings — Clark, Crawford, Floyd, Harrison, Jefferson, Scott and Washington.

Premier Companies, also known as Premier Ag, is a farmer-owned cooperative founded in 1923.

The merger means little in terms of changes for members and customers or the 200 or so employees of the combined company that will take on the Premier Companies name, Cooper said.

“It makes it a little easier since Jackson- Jennings is kind of confining to those two counties,” he said after the Jackson-Jennings Co-op annual meeting Thursday night in Seymour.

Premier Companies members approved the merger Thursday during a meeting in Columbus.

Cooper said the merger is an attempt to be more responsive to farmers’ needs.

“As they grow larger, they get more demanding. We need to follow suit,” he said. “They change. We need to change with them.”

The only other change with the merger is the likely combination of the headquarters of the two co-ops, Cooper said.

“There is a very small impact but very personal if you’re affected,” he said.

Cooper said the merger gives the co-ops more of a relevancy in the marketplace going down the road, and it gives a bigger footprint in southeastern Indiana.

Ron Sibert, CEO and general manager of Jackson-Jennings Co-op, said merger talks began in May 2015.

“It won’t take affect until Sept. 1, so we will both finish out our fiscal years,” Sibert said.

Sibert said there’s very little overlap of services with the merger. Both co-ops have energy, feed, grain, crops and retail divisions.

The next Premier Companies board will have a new look.

“They will be elected sometime probably in March,” Cooper said. “He’ll (Sibert) have a meeting, and we’ll have a meeting, and out of that, there were will be six directors elected from each company.”

Besides its main office in Seymour, Jackson-Jennings has branches in Brownstown, Cortland, Corydon, North Vernon and Salem.

The co-op also operates CountryMark convenience stores in Brownstown, Crothersville and Seymour; a self-serve CountryMark fuel station in Seymour; a farm and pet store in Seymour; and a grain elevator in Cortland that accepts beans, corn and wheat and another in Brownstown that accepts corn.

Premier Companies serves customers in Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky through branches in Franklin, Greensburg, Hope, St. Paul, Trafalgar and Harrison, Ohio. The company operates two retail fuel stations in Greensburg and another in Harrison, Ohio.

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Aubrey Woods is editor of The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at awoods@tribtown.com or 812-523-7051.