Two area coops are celebrating their marriage this month as Ag Partners Cooperative Association and Genesis Cooperative Association merged.

The two local companies, with 17 locations serving a number of southeast Minnesota communities, announced the merger effective April 1. The companies said no changes are immediate, except that Genesis will assume the name of Ag Partners.

Ag Partners formed in 1996 when Goodhue Elevator and Farmers Elevator Company of Lake City, consolidated. In 2013, the addition of Farm Country Coop in 2013 expanded the customer base and territory.

Before April 1, Ag Partners had locations in Owatonna, Kenyon, Wanamingo, Pine Island, Cannon Falls, Goodhue, Bellechester, Red Wing, Ellsworth, Maiden Rock, Lake City, Plainview and Lewiston, but now crosses Interstate 35 to take over Genesis’ Belle Plaine, Le Sueur, Le Center and Morristown locations.

In December, Genesis’s Board of Directors held a special meeting to vote on the planned merger. At that time, 253 yes votes passed the motion, just three more than required. No votes totaled 121.

“We understand that this merger represents a change in our company name, but we want to ensure you that our services will not be negatively affected in any way,” said Genesis Board President Tim Griep in a letter announcing the merger.

Griep noted that all existing phone numbers for Genesis will remain the same and that all current sales and customer service representatives will too.

“We are confident that our new affiliation will serve us all well,” Griep said in the letter.

“This is a merger of two successful companies with similar portfolios,” he added, saying the companies hold “similar values.”

“Though we will now operate as one company – Ag Partners Cooperative – you can still rely on the working relationships that you have had in the past,” he said.

A new anniversary

April 1 marked the 22nd anniversary of Ag Partners, but will also be known going forward as the unification day between the company and Genesis.

“The merger will allow Ag Partners and Genesis to capitalize on many existing strengths,” said Ag Partners General Manager Greg Schwanbeck in the company’s most recent newsletter.

In total, Ag Partners now boasts 6,000 customers, which Schwanbeck wanted to make sure had a good cooperative experience.

Schwanbeck explained that the merger with Genesis will allow Ag Partners to “work hard against growing competition” and “provide outstanding equity to our local members.”

As part of the letter, Schwanbeck said the first half of the fiscal year has the company “doing very well at this point.”

“The merger with Genesis only adds to this optimism,” he said.

Reach Reporter Gunnar Olson at 507-333-3128 or follow him on Twitter @fdnGunnar.

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