From the Manager's Desk

Feb 05, 2024


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February 2024

On January 24th Premier held its 131st annual meeting at WI Riverside Resort in Spring Green, WI. As part of the financial report, Premier CFO Andy Jones reported your cooperative had a very strong year with gross sales of $308 million and pre-tax earnings of $22 million for fiscal year 2023, compared to the prior year with $300 million in sales and $15.5 million in earnings. While expenses for the company grew by approximately $2 million last year, primarily by increases in labor and insurance, strong sales growth led by our feed and agronomy divisions, combined with solid margins from our energy team helped to contribute to the record bottom line results from 2023. 

Andy reported that with working capital at the end of the fiscal year sitting at $54 million and no long-term debt, Premier’s balance sheet is extremely strong and well positioned for the future. 

Board Chairman Steve Burns thanked the members and employee team and reported on the milestone equity redemption set to take place this spring. Over 20 years ago we made a commitment to not only return what was promised to our members, but to also stop creating future equity liabilities for the cooperative. This change in equity management is what will allow the members of Heartland Country Co-op, who merged with Premier in 2013, to receive the last of their eligible equity paid out in cash this spring. Heartland now joins each of the former cooperatives that make up Premier in having their eligible equity paid out. The new equity management and patronage program for Premier is now a tool to maximize the cash our members receive each year, rather than an equity liability for the cooperative to overcome in the future. 

For the management report, I provided updates from each of the divisions and highlighted several large projects in the works with our feed and agronomy divisions. From upgrades to the fleet and expansion of existing facilities, to the addition of a new green field site, it has been the consistent financial performance that enables Premier to reinvest back into assets and future growth. We continue to generate earnings that allow us to maintain a strong balance sheet, reinvest into operations, seek new opportunities, and return cash to our members. Speaking of returns, this spring we are set to distribute $6 million in cash to our members for their 2023 business; an increase of about $1 million compared to last year’s return.

While last year was a success, we also acknowledge the variability of business cycles and know that no two years will be the same; not every year will set revenue or earnings records like 2023. Our business will fluctuate, and we need to be prepared for the downturns. We have worked hard to position Premier to be prepared for the future. 

Perhaps the highlight from this year’s annual meeting was when Allison Young, Premier Quality Assurance & Communications Manager, awarded 41 high school seniors with scholarships of $500 each. With most recipients and their parents present, they made up a large portion of the nearly 200 cooperative members in attendance. Congratulations to each of you and I wish you the best of luck as you begin your college career. 

In closing, I would like to thank each of you for your tremendous support over the years that allows us to return record cash back to our members, award scholarships to the next generation, hire and retain the quality staff to serve you, and so much more. We appreciate the trusted partnerships we have built over the years and will continue to work hard each day to earn your business. Thank you.

Matt Severson

CEO

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