Western Cooperative Company
For more than 70 years, Western Cooperative Company (WESTCO) has been providing fuel, agronomy and bean marketing services throughout Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado and South Dakota. Headquartered in Alliance, Nebraska, WESTCO handles 40 percent of the global Great Northern bean supply. WESTCO is able to stand out from other agriculture co-ops with its niche markets, which also include convenience stores, home heat and tire repair centers.
Western Cooperative Company (WESTCO) organized in 1942 when ten individuals put up $10 each to form the equity used to purchase a gas station. This small beginning was initially the entire company, and served as the basis of what is now WESTCO’s petroleum division.
Through acquisitions over the years, the petroleum division has grown into one of the largest cooperative fuel dealers in the nation. The company’s assets include ten bulk plants, seven convenience stores and four car-care centers located throughout Wyoming and Nebraska.
In 1956, WESTCO began doing agronomy and in 1983, entered into dry beans and built a new elevator. The WESTCO agronomy division serves Wyoming and Nebraska with 12 professional agronomists who provide quality products, service and sound agronomic advice to put value into any farming operation. “We pride ourselves on staying on top of the latest agronomic issues and technologies,” says David Briggs, president and CEO of WESTCO.
The feed division of WESTCO serves the region’s livestock producers with stores in Alliance, Ashby, Gering, Mirage Flats, Morrill, Oshkosh and Torrington, Wyoming. Each feed specialist works directly with producers on their farms and ranches in developing solutions to maximize profitability in their operation. “As a Purina dealer, we provide a full line of feed for our customers, including the ability to deliver with a fleet of trucks and trailers, including several Ledwell paddle trailers,” Briggs explains. “We also distribute Vitalix lick tubs.”
With more efficient methods of farming taking place in the industry within the past 15 years, WESTCO plays a significant role in educating farmers and producers on those techniques. With a professional on staff with a Master’s degree in soil science, WESTCO is encouraging farmers to use strip till machines, which utilize GPS systems to drive tractors in a straight line and till only the soil area where the planting occurs.
Numerous services through multiple divisions
In the last 12 years, WESTCO has made numerous acquisitions to improve and increase its services. In 2005, the co-op purchased Jirdon Agri Chemicals Inc. This acquisition offered the opportunity for growth in WESTCO’s existing fertilizer, chemical and seed branches along with the opportunity to add new product lines with the addition of divisions in lawn and garden, turf and feed.
Today, Jirdon offers an array of quality lawn, garden and seed products through its retail dealer network, which serves a five state region including Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming. Jirdon’s top quality fertilizers are formulated specifically for the Rocky Mountain region.
New Alliance is another division of WESTCO that handles and processes beans in Alliance, Bridgeport and Gering, Nebraska. The division specializes in providing top-quality canning beans to food companies around the world. The finished product is milled to customer specifications and packed in a variety of ways including bulk totes and paper or poly bags from 20 pound to 50 kilograms. Beans are also shipped in bulk rail hoppers or bulk trucks.
New Alliance also offers farmers the advantage of a co-op in the marketing of their beans. As a division of WESTCO, patronage refunds earned by doing business at New Alliance are included with the WESTCO refund that is made each December.
In February 2011, WESTCO formed its seventh division, Western Aviation, based at the Alliance and Scottsbluff airports. The company’s aerial application division consists of five planes to provide a wide range of aerial services to the region. Western Aviation continues to adopt new yield-boosting technologies such as Plant Health, Micro-Nutrient Prescription and Precise application Timing and Techniques to serve growing producers with growing needs and shrinking time and labor resources.
Efficient methods implemented by Western Aviation include fast reliable application for row crops and pastures, local pilots utilizing GPS technology, efficient cost/benefit ratio, timely application and convenient scheduling.
Through Acquisitions, education and adapting the latest technologies, WESTCO remains a leading multiple service provider in the Midwest. The co-op will continue to build upon tradition and excellence to help farmers work more efficiently and increase yields.