Green Valley merger called a plus

Come September the Green Valley Co-op, headquartered in Marietta, will merge with Agland Co-op Inc., based in New Philadelphia, under the Agland name.

The Sept. 1 merger was announced following a vote by members of the two farm cooperatives approving the move last week.

Ed Harra, CEO of Green Valley Co-op, said the merger will help expand and improve the local cooperative’s services and products.

“Really our business is our people, and with all the changes in agriculture and technology out there you have to be able to bring that to the local community,” he said. “And we were very pleased with the April 15 vote that passed by 89 percent of our membership, which was a high majority vote count.”

The local cooperative has been in business since 1935, providing feed, fertilizer, fuel, farm equipment and supplies as well as expert advice to area farmers and other businesses.

“It began as the Washington County Farm Bureau Cooperative, and later became Washington County Landmark,” Harra said. “In 2002 we merged with Rolling Hills Landmark that served Belmont, Monroe, Noble and Guernsey counties.”

Green Valley now has nine operational facilities in five counties, but serves more than 12 counties, including areas of West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Harra said members and customers should see little change at the local facility on Third Street in Marietta.

“Folks won’t see a lot of changes here,” he said. “They’ll be seeing the same people as in the past. We have a total of 65 employees, and the merger with Agland will result in a total of around 200 employees (throughout the new cooperative).”

The most noticeable change will be from Green Valley to the Agland name, Harra said.

He said Agland Co-op is slightly larger than Green Valley, with 12 locations serving mostly eastern counties in Ohio and some areas of Western Pennsylvania, and the two cooperatives have had a good working relationship for many years.

Agland also provides a variety of farm-related services, feed, equipment and other products, including energy (fuel) products for farms and the growing shale oil and gas industry.

“Green Valley has many good people who will bring value to Agland. And as their area is closer proximity to the shale oil fields, the merged company will be able to improve efficiency in delivering fuel to the oil fields,” said Doug Martig, who chairs the Agland board of directors.

He noted Green Valley produces more feed, which will enhance the new cooperative’s feed manufacturing and merchandising abilities.

Ken Schilling, board chairman for Green Valley, said the local co-op’s producers are looking forward to having access to the grain marketing expertise and services Agland can provide.

“Likewise, strong, broad-based petroleum marketing and sales will be an asset to our memberships, too,” he said.

When the merger takes place on Sept. 1, Agland Co-op CEO Jeff Osentoski will become the new cooperative’s CEO. Harra, who’s been with the local co-op for 25 years, said he’ll continue in a leadership role to help with the transition.

The combined cooperatives will serve customers from 24 locations in 20 eastern Ohio counties, as well as in areas of western Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia.

Co-op business leaders estimate the combined organization’s sales will be approximately $320 million, according to a recent news release from Agland.