North Wellington Co-op celebrates 65 years of business and a new central feed warehouse

A 65th anniversary celebration for the North Wellington Co-op included a gift to its members in the form of a new central feed warehouse at the co-operative’s combination grand opening and anniversary on June 25.

The new central feed warehouse replaces an older feed manufacturing mill. A much larger building than the previous one, it measures 40- x 100- feet and is large enough to serve all four branches and customers. It will house bag feed, and will include a large generator equipped to fully power the store, warehouse, propane plant, crop protection warehouse and cardlock gas bar in the case of a power outage.

Kelly Boyle, the co-operative’s general manager, sees it as a much needed change and a better use of space. Customers will notice improvements in a few ways, but the biggest benefit is that in most cases, they will be able to pick up orders with one stop at the new warehouse instead of multiple stops around the property. “As well, the improvement to our appearance in the community will be an extra bonus for our neighbours as they enjoy the nicer view,” Boyle said.

“We are one of the strongest co-operatives in Ontario,” said services president Eric Rae. “For a business to grow for 65 years, it not only requires a strong group of employees, an outstanding management team and board of directors but also a great amount of community spirit and customer-member loyalty.”

After the grand opening ceremony, a barbecue lunch was served to celebrate the milestone .

 The company started as Harriston Co-operative Associ­ation on May 9, 1944 with the purchase of a feed mill on Margaret Street, in Harriston. In 1956, the co-operative built a new feed mill, and entered into the bulk fuel business and a couple of years later, provided propane services.

In 1960, Mount Forest District Co-operative Co. Ltd. became part of the Harriston group, and the expanded co-operative gained the name it has today. In the early 1990s, during a process called co-operative restructuring in On­ta­rio, the co-operative purchased the Hanover and Durham branches from United Co-operatives of Ontario, and in 1994, joined the new Ontario regional co-operative Growmark, Inc. The next decade was a time of calculated growth: The co-operative demonstrated its com­mitment to providing garden expertise and opened four new greenhouses.

It expanded its energy product offering with rural energy marketing leader, UPI Inc., and created a central warehouse in Harriston. Today, 4,000 members own the co-operative. It has annual sales approaching $28-million and in 2008, had a net income of more than $475,000. Profits of the co-operative are shared with members and used to improve the services of the co-operative.