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Indiana co-op continues steady growth
By ORA & SHIRLEY CALLAHAN
Indiana Correspondents

SHELBYVILLE, Ind. — SHELBYVILLE, Ind. — The Shelby County Co-op continues to grow in facilities, sales and services while many other county co-ops are merging across the country.

The Shelby County Farm Bureau Co-operative Assoc., Inc., opened for business on Oct. 16, 1928, when local farmers banded together to meet their needs for farm operations. Those needs included coal, feed, petroleum, fertilizer and implements.

In those early years, the co-op operated from a large wooden elevator and petroleum facility in downtown Shelbyville, Ind. - situated by the railroad depot. Historical reports claim that Abraham Lincoln stopped at the depot and gave one of his caboose speeches, of course, long before the co-op owned it.

A massive fire and a later petroleum explosion destroyed the facilities, and all the records were lost. In 1953, the co-op purchased land at its present location east of Shelbyville on State Road 44 where the co-op has continued to build more units as needed to provide more products and improved services.

The Shelby County Co-op has 730 stockholders, and its 78th annual stockholders’ meeting was in December.

The total sales for the fiscal year ending August 2005 were more than $21.5 million. That is unusually high, especially since the co-op does not handle grain marketing or bulk feed.

Net savings were $252,880 with patronage refunds of $120,000. The co-op paid taxes, including federal income, of $305,521. The co-op has shown a steady growth during the past 20 years as reported at its annual meetings.

Presently, the Shelby County Co-op operations include an Ace Hardware store, crops, propane and fertilizer with 45 full-time employees. Louis McIntyre is general manager and treasurer, and Jack Haney is the office manager and controller.

McIntyre believes the future of their co-operative is good.

“It will change more in the next 10 years than it has in the last 20,” he said. “There’s not a lot of debt, but we are not afraid to do things that will benefit the company. We will look at every opportunity for possible enlarging. It is monumental that we keep updated to current technology.”

There are seven directors elected by the membership in specific districts on a rotating term basis.

The Ace Hardware franchise is located in Shelbyville in a 7,000-square-foot building. The store had sales of $1 million with the largest portion in Ace Hardware products, plus pet feeds, salt, garden, seed, grass seed and bag fertilizer.

Crop facilities are located in Boggstown, Ray’s Crossing and Shelbyville. Sales in those places totaled $7.3 million last year. Their products are dry and liquid fertilizers, lime and anhydrous ammonia - exceeding 26,000 tons.

Chemical sales were 2.2 million. Liquid fertilizer storage capacity is 257,500 gallons and bulk fertilizer storage is 3,700 tons. Ammonia storage is 216,000 gallons. The Boggstown plant was purchased in 1997, and the Ray’s Crossing was added in 2001.

The propane business has Indiana facilities located in Shelbyville, Boggstown, Bloomington, Palmyra, Rushville, Henryville, Underwood and Sheperdsville, Ky. Propane delivery is accomplished with 10 propane trucks with another spare truck used during the peak winter months and grain drying season.

Total sales exceeded 8 million gallons in 2005. Storage capacity is 522,000 gallons.

On Feb. 22, 1999, the Shelby County Co-op organized RSE Propane, which is a Limited Liability Corp. in Indiana, jointly owned by Rush Shelby Energy (the local Touchstone Energy Co-op) on a joint ownership of 50 percent each.

The RSE Propane company operates under the name of Crossroads Energy. RSE Propane reported sales of $639,714 at a net profit of $28,252 for the fiscal year.

The petroleum business is located at Shelbyville and delivery is with two 2,100-gallon delivery trucks.

Total sales exceeded 1.7 million gallons in 2005 with storage capacity of 110,000 gallons. Petroleum products are purchased from a Countrymark Co-op petroleum refinery in Mount Vernon, Ind. Today, there are only 149 refineries in the United States with capacity up to 95 percent, compared to 300 refineries in 1980 with utilization of only 75 percent.

The Countrymark Co-op recently made a $45 million investment to produce ultra-low sulfur in a road diesel, and the Indiana Soybean Board invested in an injection pump for soy biodiesel blending with diesel fuel.

“There will be computers in all trucks so transfers of data can be made instantly with wireless technology,” Haney said.

He expects sales to increase to 28-30 million in the next five years. The Shelbyville Mayor’s office recently signed four proclamations to congratulate the Shelby County Co-op Board of Directors for its success and accomplishments.

Keith Theobald has completed 30 years of service as president; Robert Folz served as vice president for 25 years; Sam Swinford was secretary for 15 years; and Phillip Boring served 10 years as a director.

Other directors serving on the board are Steve LeMasters, Jeff Maurice and Tim Tennell.

The phone number for the Co-op is 317-398-6655.

This farm news was published in the March 29, 2006 issue of Farm World.

4/19/2006