Co-op leading the pack

By Geoff Lee

April 27, 2017 12:00 AM

NUMBERS ARE UP Lloydminster & District Co-op petroleum manager, Brandy Nelson, is flanked on the left by CEO Don Stephenson and on the right by propane manager Brian Maltby for the opening of the new Co-op Fuel Centre at the west side of the city last June. The fuel centre and the opening of the Hampton Square Co-op Gas Bar and Conveniece store in 2016 both contributed to the Co-op's positive bottom line in 2016. FILE LLS PHOTO

Lloydminster and District Co-operative Ltd. defied economic gravity to post an annual net profit of about $6.8 million while gaining a 1,000 new members over the past year.
In addition, the Co-op returned about $3.3 million in cash and equity to its growing membership of just over 18,000.
The results were revealed at the Co-op’s annual general meeting attended by about 150 members at the Lloydminster Exhibition Grounds on April 24.
“Our sales were up marginally from last year, which, in the current economic environment we’re operating in was a nice statement,” said CEO Don Stephenson.
“I think what we’ve witnessed over the past couple of years is that we’ve got a good business model and we’ve got a sustainable business model.”
That model is built on a diverse portfolio of selling a wide range of retail and commercial products from its grocery, pharmacy petroleum, propane and agro sectors.
“We’ve stuck to our knitting so to speak,” said Stephenson.
“We’ve stayed in areas where we feel we’ve got a great deal of competency and capability and proven success and we’ll continue with that kind of mindset moving forward.”
Profit was up marginally from a year ago aided by the first full year of operations for the Hampton Square Co-op Gas Bar and Convenience store on Highway 16 west.
The bottom line was also helped by the opening of the new Co-op Fuel Centre and card lock operation, located kitty corner to Agland on Hwy 16 west.
“All sectors contributed to the bottom line success of our organization,” said Stephenson.
“We didn’t have a weak link in the group.”
Revenue was assisted by the fact that more than 90 per cent of the Co-op’s membership are what Stephenson calls active members.
“In other words, they are making purchases in one of our facilities,” he said.
Stephenson credits the Co-op’s strong membership customer response to the organization’s people and having new and up to date facilities.
“I think our people do an exceptional job in servicing the members,” he said.
“In tight economic times, that’s an absolute must.”
The Co-op has about 230 employees of which more than 200 are full time.
Stephenson noted they haven’t gone down the route to going with part time employees during the downturn to save money.
“We’ve actually stayed committed to our staff and our people and from that we’ve got staff and people who’ve stayed committed to the organization,” said Stephenson.
He noted the Co-op also held true to its social commitments and helped more than 100 charitable entities and non-profit organizations in 2016.
A couple of standout projects said Stephenson were the Co-op’s Kindness Wins campaign to promote anti-bullying and the Huron Carole fundraiser with singer Tom Jackson.
The latter event raised more than $25,000 for the local Salvation Army Food Bank and The Olive Tree.
Looking ahead to the rest of this year, Stephenson said the Co-op is seeing some positive trends in the economy in the last couple of quarters.
“We’ll continue to look for opportunities from growth and redevelopment,” he said.
“This will be a year focused on the maintenance of our facilities, upgrading some facilities and making sure we continue to put a model out there that people are proud to be a part of.”
The Co-op will also have some fresh faces on its board of directors with the re-election of Warren Callfas and election of newcomers Helen Rogers and Erin Rommel who replace retirees.
A new executive will be elected in the coming weeks.

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