Co-op News > September 2019 > From the Manager's Desk September 2019

From the Manager's Desk September 2019

Sep 01, 2019

A year ago, many of us were cleaning up after historic flooding hit much of our trade area. While most of the homes, businesses, and farms have been restored as best they can, it left plenty of permanent reminders and many of us with a greater sense of vulnerability. I recall driving home that evening through Black Earth and crossing the bridge over the Black Earth creek. Later that evening, I was hearing reports that the bridge had collapsed. In fact, part of the approach to the bridge had washed out and did collapse under the weight of a milk truck traveling its daily route. Later, Maureen told me her tale of driving home from work on the west beltline, driving through water pouring over the highway, and then hearing on the radio only ten or so minutes later that cars had been swept off the road and it had been closed. These are the kind of memories that stay with us for a lifetime. Our current fiscal year, last October through this September, is full of memories that will stick with me too. Whether it has been the continued consolidation in agriculture, the market volatility surrounding non-stop coverage of trade tensions, or the wet, challenging spring season that never seemed to end, each year brings its share of things you’ll never forget.

With only a month left in our current fiscal year, we still have a lot to get done. First, we have hundreds of thousands of bushels of grain to get hauled out of our facilities to make room for what we all hope is a better than anticipated grain harvest. Hopefully September and October will bring some warm days with a late frost allowing our crop to reach full maturity. Some dry days would also help us complete our grain projects in Westby and Mazomanie before harvest is in full swing. If you need help with handling or marketing your grain, give us a call. Finally, we need to get all our locations and records in order ahead of our year-end inventory. What does this entail? Well, our staff and inventory service will need to count all of the retail items we sell—feed, fertilizer, seed, hardware, convenience store, automotive, fuel, bushels of grain—in our 37 petroleum storage tanks, 45 buildings, 30 grain bins, 25 bulk propane storage tanks, and countless fertilizer and feed bins at 35 locations in 26 communities. Once counted, they need to be coded and each item priced at cost. After this information is compiled by each location, it is sent to our main office to be rechecked before it is inputted into our accounting system and presented to the auditors for review in early November. With last fiscal year end’s inventory being over $21 million, you can see it’s a large undertaking. If you think of it as we close in on September 30, please plan your delivery needs ahead of time in order to allow the staff a little extra time to count versus manufacturing and delivering product. Thanks.

In addition to inventory, and perhaps of even greater importance, is having all our customer’s accounts receivable (customer charge accounts) current at the end of September. Each year our staff spends countless hours calling and meeting with customers to make sure their accounts are all current prior to our year-end. This creates uncomfortable situations with members/friends and takes valuable time and resources away from providing quality products and services to our members, a task the staff would much rather be doing. For those of you that continue to pay your accounts in a timely manner each month, thank you very much. For those that may have a balance past the credit terms, please clear it up by September 15.

With less than a month left in our fiscal year, I’d like to thank all of you again for your support. We have a great group of highly trained, hardworking, and dedicated employees to help you in all areas of our company. Your board of directors commits time away from their farms to provide the vision and tools our team needs. We will continue to strive to exceed your expectations and we appreciate your feedback in helping us stay ahead of your needs. We will continue to look for new ways to add efficiencies and value to what we are currently doing. Like any business that is constantly moving and adapting, we will run into bumps and make mistakes along the way. I hope that by working together (board, employees, and members) we will continue to build the company you are proud to be owners of. 

By the time I write my next update, Mo and I will be grandparents for the third time. Our oldest son, Steve, and his wife, Becky, are expecting a baby boy to join Ava (2.5 yrs) at home. Not to be outdone, in early August our son, David, and his wife, Kim, announced that Cooper (3 yrs) will be welcoming a sibling in February. Feeling left out again, something she never felt as the “chosen one” while growing up, our daughter, Andrea, announced a week later that Sam proposed and she accepted. Looks like the next year is going to be chaotic and exciting around the Fiene’s. I hope all of you had a wonderful Labor Day and were able to make some great memories that will last you a lifetime. Have a wonderful month and Go Badgers!


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Sep 03, 2019
By Christopher Blank, M.S. | Nutrition Consultant