Elm Creek and Marquette Co-ops vote yes on amalgamation

Elm Creek Co-op members voted 97 per cent in favour of merging with Marquette Co-op at a meeting in Elm Creek last week. (supplied photo)

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Elm Creek and Marquette Co-op’s members voted nearly unanimously in favour of amalgamation recently and both organizations are excited to provide better service in a wider area to members and non-members alike.

“By combining retails, we are in an excellent position to provide more options going forward for members with a large agrarian area between us that will be better served for everyone,” said Dave Henderson, general manager of the Elm Creek Co-op. “Some of those are members and non-members as well because there are no co-ops between the stores. It’ll give us continued strength to provide our wide offer of commodities and widen them some more for fertilizer, chemical, hardware, and groceries.”

Elm Creek’s members voted 97 per cent in favour of the amalgamation while Marquette members voted 95 per cent in favour, which is definitely a push of confidence for both Co-ops.

“We didn’t take the decision lightly, we took our time and did research at both co-ops,” said Henderson. “We’ve been at this almost 10 years and wanted to be sure it would work for our members. It takes a long time to make a very important decision and that’s basically what we did. It will be an excellent decision moving forward for both coops as we have the same values, vision, and commitment to our communities.”

The agreement also includes the Starbuck Co-op on Highway Number 2, which will help those travelling from the area to Winnipeg. That means people can use their account at all three stores, gaining equity at the same time.

“There will be a name change, we haven’t decided on what it will be yet and we’re hoping to have it for December 1 Grand Opening which is when this all takes effect,” said Henderson. “Now we’ll start looking at membership lists to make sure we don’t have any crossover members. Then we have to make sure our policy and procedures are the same, merging our till systems, and merging our business models. There is still a lot to do to complete the amalgamation.”

The Elm Creek Co-op was incorporated on April 7, 1928, and employs 21 people. The business served 1488 members in 2019 with $11,626,000 in sales. Marquette was incorporated on May 3, 1949, and employs 25 people in the Marquette and Starbuck area. The two businesses served 3,470 members with a total of $28,000,000 in sales for 2019.

“A 70-year-old co-op and a 90-year-old coop,” added Henderson. “We’ve seen hard times and we’ve come through them and have been better for it. We’re excited to continue growing.”

The complete amalgamation will take effect on December 1, 2019.