Scranton Equity Exchange
For 100 years Scranton Equity Exchange (Scranton Equity) has been supporting the small 300-person town of Scranton, N.D. In that time, the company has grown to become one of the most diversified independent farmer-owned cooperatives in the state with a variety of services, including a grocery store, truck stop, auto repair shop, tire store, automotive parts store, full-service agronomy center, feed mill, fuel station, lumberyard, hardware store and grain division. The company also operates facilities in Buffalo, S.D., and Bowman, N.D. Roger Goodfellow, general manager for more than 18 years at Scranton Equity, is proud to note that all of the cooperative’s facilities are modern and up to date.
“I believe we may be one of the oldest cooperatives in the state,” Goodfellow reveals. The cooperative started out as a small wood elevator in 1914. Since then, Scranton Equity has grown into a full-service cooperative, striving to provide area members with a complete range of sales and services needed for production agriculture. Although the cooperative has expanded significantly from its origin as an old wood elevator, Scranton Equity remains owned by local farmers and ranchers.
Getting the Wheels Turning
The latest addition to the cooperative originated in 1997 when Goodfellow joined friend Roger Hansen, a fieldsman for Farmland Industries. The two were enjoying breakfast at the Gateway Restaurant in Bowman and both noted the heavy traffic flow at the intersection of Highway 12 and Highway 85.
“We thought it would be an ideal site for a truck shop, so I asked the Scranton Equity board to authorize the purchase of some land at the intersection of Highway 85 and Highway 12,” recalls Goodfellow. “The board agreed and the land was purchased at a fairly reasonable price. At first, the project was placed on hold while the cooperative constructed a new agronomy plant and concrete elevator. However, in 2003, a limited liability company was formed and construction started on the project.”
Goodfellow goes on to note that the Bowman Travel Center was completed in a little over a year, and indicates the venture has been very successful. “It generates revenue that can be used to provide more agricultural services to the area farmers and ranchers who own Scranton Equity,” he details.
The Bowman Travel Center currently employs more than 25 people. “The facility contains a trucker’s lounge, convenience store, a deli and a beer cave,” Goodwin continues. “The system also has adequate parking for more than 40 semi-trucks.”
Scranton Equity added a touchless car wash and additional office space in 2007, followed by a Piccadilly Pizza franchise 2009. “Our timing was about right,” indicates Goodfellow. “I guess you could say we’ve lucked out on that project. If the oil boom hadn’t happened in western North Dakota, the truck stop wouldn’t have been nearly as profitable.”
Offering Well-rounded Supportive Sales and Service
According to Goodfellow, the majority of Scranton Equity’s success isn’t based on luck, but based on a well-rounded offering of diversified sales and service, a very knowledgeable group of employees and an experienced board of directors.
The largest service area Scranton Equity manages is the grain division. “The large white concrete grain facilities are the first thing you see when you enter the town of Scranton,” says Goodfellow. “It is further explained that the grain division is a unit train shuttle loader, meaning the company can ship an entire train of wheat at one time.”
Goodfellow adds that Scranton Equity owns two large locomotives and can usually load more than 100 rail cars in about 14 hours. It is evident that the company has come a long way from the old wood elevators that handled horse-drawn wagons full of wheat back in 1914. The same company now receives up to 100 modern semi-trucks of wheat from local area producers during harvest. “Times have really changed,” says Goodfellow.
Scranton Equity boasts an experienced, well-trained team of employees always ready and willing to help farmer and rancher owners with all requests. “From bulk fuel and propane delivery to livestock equipment, lumber and hardware products to grain handling and agronomy services, we have the product or service for the job,” continues Goodfellow.
The company even owns and operates a modern grocery store to support the local community. “We face the usual challenges, such as drought, just like any other cooperative,” adds Goodfellow. “But, we’re diversified enough, so if one business doesn't generate income, another will.”
The mission of most agricultural farm cooperatives has changed dramatically over the past 100 years. “When the first cooperatives were founded a century ago, they were founded to receive and market grain for the members,” he continues. “This has changed over the years, as most farm cooperatives have also become supply cooperatives handling products such fertilizer, ag-chemicals, fuel, propane and seed.”
Goodfellow indicates that Scranton Equity’s supply divisions have the ability to generate about the same amount of profit as the grain division. As with all cooperatives, profits are returned to the members in the way of cash or stock within the cooperative. Goodfellow notes that stock issued to a producer is purchased at face value when the member reaches age 70, but says that other cooperatives may do things differently.
After 18 years as the general manager, Goodfellow feels the company’s success is due to loyal members, an excellent board of directors and a group of outstanding employees. Scranton Equity Exchange plans to continue to build on a century of trusted, supported sales and service for the next 100 years.
For more information about Scranton Equity Exchange, please visit: www.scrantonequity.org.