1951

Five (5) local cooperatives decide to work together and combine their businesses.

  1. La Coopérative agricole de Verner
  2. La Société coopérative agricole de Lavigne
  3. La Coopérative agricole de Noëlville
  4. La Coopérative de Desaulniers
  5. La Coopérative agricole de St-Charles Borromée

All five cooperatives operate a general store that offers a variety of merchandise including grocery, hardware, farm supplies as well as animal feeds and crop input products.

This new cooperative adopts the 7 principles of coopératives.

Growth

Throughout its history, Co-op Régionale evolved and underwent many changes. Some services were added while others were eliminated, new locations were added as well as expansions of territories.  

For example:

  • The purchase and subsequent sale of the milk trucking division (1961-1996)
  • The closure of the Desaulniers store (1947-1965)
  • The purchase and subsequent sale of the Field store (1972-1994)
  • The construction and subsequent sale of a new store in St-Charles (1991-2010)
  • The opening and subsequent closure of the Sturgeon Falls store (1969-1980)
  • The closure of the store in Lavigne (1950-1976)

Challenges

Also of historical importance were challenges brought on by devastating fires, flooding and employees’ strike and changing times.

Two fires in 1959. One that destroyed the Noelville store and the other at the Verner Feedmill.

  • A fire at the Verner store in 1975
  • The introduction of a union and collective bargaining in 1973
  • The 1979 flood in Field which ravaged  the Co-op store
  • A three week strike in 1986
  • Competition – Introduction of big box stores (Costco, Walmart, Home Depot etc.)
  • Computers and information technology – the world wide web
  • Ease of mobility and distance travelled to shop for goods

Some of the key factors that led to our success

  • People
    • Directors
    • Management and staff
    • Members and customers
  • Diversification
  • Flexibility
  • Adaptation to changes
  • A solid balance sheet
  • The will to make the right decisions at the right time. e.g. patronage dividends vs general reserve
  • The ability to recognize and release the sinking ship
  • Having the right protection against unforeseen events such as insurances
     

Some of the highlights that brought us where we are today

  • The introduction of bulk petroleum delivery
  • The purchase, renovation and transformation of the Verner Gas Bar
  • The sale of the milk trucking division
  • The geographical expansion via Temiskaming Grain Marketing Co-operative
  • A landslide of the Veuve River banks a mere few meters away from our fertilizer storage building
  • The construction and three expansions of the Verner grain elevator
  • A second geographical expansion in Algoma via an Amalgamation with Algoma’s Retail Co-operative
  • 3 Joint Venture businesses with UPI Energy LP
  • A landslide of the Veuve River banks a mere few meters away from our fertilizer storage building
  • Agriculture in Nipissing, mainly comprised of dairy farmers was in a freefall.
  • A group of farmers began to look at the concept of a grain elevator.

The urgent need and will of the Co-op to relocate its feedmill operations including the fertilizer storage building away from the Veuve River, combined with the interest and support from the agricultural community to promote some kind of infrastructure that would receive, condition and market local crops gave birth to the Verner Elevator project.

The Verner Elevator Project

A feasibility study was commissioned and determined that a grain elevator complex combined with a feed mixing plant has the potential to survive.

  • April 14, 2000 we celebrate the grand opening.
  • 4 X 300MT grain bins, a grain dryer, grain cleaner, a commercial truck scale etc.
  • First year of operation  – we condition and market 3,000 MT of local crops
  • Summer of 2002 – A quick survey of anticipated crops forecasts exceptional yields with record volumes.
  • Impossible to store locally all the expected harvest.
  • Panic is setting in
  • The Co-op searches and finds three used grain bins of 500 MT each ready to be installed at a cost of $75,000.00 each.
  • We set up an evening farmer meeting to present a potential solution.
  • The Co-op proposes to sell additional preferred shares in order to finance up to three additional grain bins that were found.
  • Regardless of the amount of preferred shares sold, the Co-op would install at least one of the three grain bins.
  • For every $25,000.00 of preferred shares sold, the Co-op would install one grain bin
  • Therefore, it would require a minimum of $75,000.00 to install all three grain bins
  • By noon the following morning, the $75,000.00 goal was achieved!!!
  • 2002 – First expansion – 3 grain bins 500MT ea.
  • 2002 – 6,000 MT of crops handled and marketed 
  • 2003     Second expansion – 5 ingredient bins for the feed production.
  • Since then we have added a second receiving pit, changed the grain dryer, and finally added 3 more grain bins holding 1,000 MT ea.
  • Expansion of more grain bins at the TemAg Center
  • The expansion in the propane delivery service.
  • Adding a commercial grain dryer is our latest project at the Verner Ag Center.