Minggu, 07 Oktober 2007

Customer-Owned Business -The Fact

In 1994 Silver Lake became one of the few Consumer-Owned wineries in the U.S. In the initial public offering of stock more than 1000 wine enthusiasts pooled their resources to help create the winery as it exists today.

Our shareholders have been one of our greatest assets as they spread the word far and wide about the wines from Silver Lake. Shareholders now number over 2,000 and continue to be enthusiastic supporters of both the company and it's customers.

Silver Lake Winery

http://www.silverlakewinery.com/consumer.htm

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Only businesses operated under a cooperative business model (i.e., worker-owned or customer-owned) reside in Business/Cooperatives and its subcategories.

If you are not sure whether your business operates under a cooperative model, you may wish to see http://www.cooponline.coop/about_whatis_values.html.

Cooperatives (also called co-ops) are a form of business ownership that is practiced all over the world. The most common types of cooperatives are worker-owned and consumer-owned. Most cooperatives adhere to seven principles:

  • Voluntary and Open Membership
  • Democratic Member Control
  • Member Economic Participation
  • Autonomy and Independance
  • Education, Training and Information
  • Co-operation among Co-operatives
  • Concern for Community

Co-ops include:

Agricultural: farms, feed suppliers, and seed banks.

Computer and Internet: ISPs, web hosting, and computer design collectives

Energy: utility companies and power providers

Financial: banks, credit unions, investors, insurers, and mortgage brokers

Food Cooperatives: health-food stores and bulk food sharing programs

Housing: housing cooperatives and intentional communities.

Visual Arts: groups of artists, both living and working together.

Development Agencies

Organizations to assist co-op businesses, often particularly in the formation of new co-ops. They are often referred to as CDAs.

Education and Training

Organizations that study co-operatives and co-operative values, or serve to educate people on co-operative principles.


Open Directory Project

http://dmoz.org/Business/Cooperatives/desc.html

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New Horizons Supply Cooperative is a customer-owned business. It is a Wisconsin corporation with offices at 770 Lincoln Avenue, Fennimore, WI 53809. The cooperative sells goods and services to both members and non-members. It may also market goods produced by its members. New Horizons was formed in 1990 as the result of a merger of three area cooperatives.

The corporation is organized as a "producer", or farmer, cooperative. Farmers purchasing $1,000 of more of goods and services from the cooperative each year are considered to be members. They select the Board of Directors and vote at the company's annual meeting. Although Hew Horizons is closely affiliated with its primary wholesale supplier, CENEX/Land 0' Lakes does not hold an ownership position in the cooperative.

Everyone may purchase from New Horizons Co-op. There are no membership fees; all customers are eligible to qualify for a share of any profits. Provided that adequate information is supplied to co-op personnel, sales are tracked for each customer for patronage refund purposes. Profits of the cooperative are returned to customers in the form of patronage refunds. Patronage refunds are paid 20% in cash and 80% in equity(stock). Profits from sales to unidentified customers or to customers that have declined to participate in patronage refunds remain in the company as unallocated capital reserve.

Seven farmers serve on the Board of Directors. Directors are selected by district; each director represents an approximately equal number of members. The directors select a President, Vice President, and a Secretary/Treasurer from their ranks. Because the directors are full-time farmers, they do not participate in day-to-day activities of the cooperative. The Board of Directors meet at least monthly to review financial and policy matters. They also meet with the cooperative's auditor and lender as needed.

An annual member meeting is held in January each year for presentation of financial and management reports. District director elections are also ratified. All patrons are encouraged to attend and participate in meeting discussions.

As in other types of businesses, there is a chain of command for personnel. Employees report to a location supervisor or department manager. They in turn, report to the cooperative's General Manager; the General Manager reports to the Board of Directors. The cooperative has approximately 40 full-time employees and 50 part-time employees.

The cooperative has approximately 1,250 farmer members. Nearly 8,000 people hold an equity position in New Horizons Supply Cooperative.


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New Horizons Cooperative

http://www.newhorizonsco-op.com/organization.html

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Career Spotlight

The Marketplace for the Mind Career spotlight will focus on interesting and accomplished people whose careers are in a field of agriculture. This quarter, we’re focused on…

Allyn L. Lamb

Allyn L Lamb

President and CEO
AgChoice Farm Credit, ACA

AgChoice is a customer-owned business that provides credit and financial services throughout the majority of Pennsylvania. Over 130 employees manage a loan portfolio in excess of $1 billion of agriculture, agribusiness, forest products, lifestyle farms and country residences.

I came to Pennsylvania and to AgChoice because I saw tremendous untapped potential in our rural areas and agriculture. I thought that by using my skills and experience I could make a difference. My personal goal is to improve the quality of life and standard of living for all of our stakeholders: customers, employees, other service providers,…anyone we touch or reach. I am proud of what the AgChoice team has been able to accomplish in a relatively short period of time. We have doubled the size of our business, which to me means that we offer twice the benefit we did before. And we are not finished yet. I think that AgChoice and the Farm Credit System as a whole epitomizes what self-help and self-determination can do for farmers and agribusiness people.

I am currently Vice President of the Dairy Stakeholders, a group of industry related people who are dedicated to finding ways to improve the profitability of the dairy industry in Pennsylvania. Secretary of Agriculture Wolff also appointed me to the Dairy Task Force. I am involved in the Forest Products industry and in other ag related organizations.

I am committed to doing everything in my power and control to improve the standard of living and quality of life of all of our stakeholders. I believe passionately, that we are called by a higher power to serve others. I hope that by fulfilling this mission we are not only serving the purposes of our Creator but also making a difference in the lives of those around us. For me that means Pennsylvania.

As a customer-owned business, we can offer unique benefits not found at commercial banks. For instance, through our Patronage Refund program, we return a portion of our profits to our member-borrowers. ( Click here to read more about patronage refunds).

http://www.marketplaceforthemind.state.pa.us/m4m/cwp/view.asp?a=3&q=150923

http://www.agchoice.com/young_beginning_small.html

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As a distribution cooperative, Kenergy is a customer-owned not-for-profit electric company, which purchases electric power at wholesale and distributes it to customers within its service territory. Its profits or margins are put back into the cooperative to help run the business efficiently or are returned to the customer-owners through Capital Credits. A cooperative exists to provide high quality service at the lowest possible price.

Kenergy Corporation

http://www.kenergycorp.com/

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Jackson EMC

Randall Pugh tells Michelle Rivera that running a customer-owned, nonprofit organization is the best marketing tool.

You can expect to faithfully receive your electric bill every month, but not an annual electric check. Jackson Electric Membership Corporation, a Jefferson, Ga.-based utilities distribution system, has written checks to its members totaling over $4 million this year. Receiving electric service from Jackson EMC is the only thing you need to do to

earn a share of the company’s profits.

“We are different in business structure because we’re a customer-owned business, a not-for-profit cooperative,” said Jackson’s CEO of 21 years, Randall Pugh. “The city has grown into us over time. Everything has been developing and growing, and we’re resonating along with it.”

The 65-year-old company provides electric services to 190,000 customers and employs more than 460 in northeast Georgia. Business is booming for the nation’s second largest electric cooperative, and the company is projected to grow at the same pace for at least another 10 years, said Pugh. The company is surrounded by major highway systems intersecting with its service area, which has accounted for the bulk of the region’s economic, industrial, retail, and residential growth.

Member perks
If the company makes a profit exceeding the cost of its regular business, it gives the money back to its customers. “We don’t have stockholders, nor is there stock,” said Pugh. “The customers have ownership in the corporation. We retain our profit margins as equity in the organization for a number of years, and after a period of time, we refund a portion back to our members in the form of cash.”

Everyone receiving service from Jackson is a member, whether it’s an individual or a business. How much a customer gets reimbursed varies depending on the financial situation of the organization, usually decided by the board of directors. This year, the board approved a refund of $4 million to be given to 160,000 of Jackson’s members. That’s an average of $12 per customer. “This is unique to cooperatives. We have no profits, but we are still required to operate with sound business practices, which means we have to maintain equity and reserves,” Pugh said. This unusual reimbursement plays into Jackson’s marketing strategy. The organization is assigned to a specific territory, so residential customers don’t have a

choice in their utility service. But industrial customers who move into the state do have a choice of power supply. “There’s intense competition between the electric companies to capture these new businesses,” Pugh said.
A 20-man marketing team watches for these moves, looking to draw in industrial customers with the idea that whatever profit margins Jackson accrues over time will be given back.

With residential services, although they don’t have a choice of power suppliers, customers do have a choice of what energy they use, for instance, heat for their homes and water. “We’re in competition with alternative energy suppliers for a residential load,” said Pugh. “We’re aggressively marketing to get into homes. Our goal every year for all new residential accounts on our system is to get 60% of all residents on our system to get electric heating and electric water heating as opposed to natural gas, propane, or heating oil.”

http://www.redcoatpublishing.com/spotlights/sl_10_05_JacksonEMC.asp

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December 2004

Refund Coming This Month

An important message from CEO Ronnie Lee

Look closely at your December bill–you'll probably notice a nice credit. It appears as a minus in the amount column.

Our board, fellow customers you elect to run the co-op, has examined the books and voted to return a whopping $3 million for the second year in a row. In all, Walton EMC customer-owners have gotten back $22 million over the last 17 years. Over 92,000 of you will take part in this year's refund.

Most of the refunds will appear as a credit on electric bills, with the average being $27. This saves over $30,000 in check production and mailing costs.

Checks will be issued for large refunds or refunds due to former customers who have since moved off Walton EMC's system. The amount you get is based on the amount of your annual power bills.

Walton EMC is a cooperative-that means we're a customer-owned business. And since you own Walton EMC, any money left over after expense comes back as a refund.

A small portion of every dollar you spend for electric service is credited to your margins account. Margins are the amount left over after Walton EMC pays all the bills.

Some of the margins are held for reserve funds so Walton EMC is prepared for emergencies. Margins are also used to help pay down debt and to make major purchases. But when those margin reserves grow to more than what's needed for a safe financial cushion, we return the extra.

Customer-owners who received electric service from Walton EMC during the years 1981, 1982 and/or 2003 are included. Older margins are retired on a continuing basis; margins up to 1981 have already been distributed.

I hope you enjoy this benefit of receiving electric service from your customer-owned company. It's just one of the many advantages of belonging to our cooperative.

I wish you and your family a joyous holiday season!

Walton Electric Membership Corporation

http://www.waltonemc.com/Newsletter_Archive/2004_12december.htm

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QI, a local start up company is building on what others have started. A customer owned business that is trying to make the dot- com world accessible to the average Joe, who doesn't understand all of the technical jargon. A place where consumers and wholesalers will meet and commence business transactions.

In these economic times the best place to shore up one's financial situation is to start with the bills they pay every month. That is precisely why QI was formed. A place where you can shop to find the best deals on the goods and services we use in our everyday life. It's about choices. The mission of QI is to build a network of individuals who can share and do business with one another. It's pretty hard for the average person to find a supplier of soy nuts other than their local super market. However there are lots of small family owned farms out there looking for a market to sell their goods. As we become a more health conscience society, it is becoming increasingly important to know how and where the goods and services we purchase are brought to market; like the meat you eat, the fruit and vegetables you consume and the fuels used to produce your electricity. As the large corporations consolidate an industry, they change how they produce and become exclusive to whom they purchase from.

QI is starting out as an Internet provider of dial-up services. This is a place where you come and start gathering information on the things you need in your daily life; like filing your taxes to legal advice. Plus being a customer owned company, saving money is what we are all about. Much like a co-op providing everything from the electricity you need in your home or office to the food you put on the table for your family. There is no annual membership fee to become a QI customer. Simply check us out online at QIPOWER.net. Our Internet service costs $12.95/month. Compared to many of the industry leaders this is a big saving in ones monthly bills. Also if you have small businesses email us and let us know. We are always looking for new service providers to our customers. Find us on the web at http://www.qipower.net/

For Additional Information, Please Contact:

Casey
QI
info@qipower.net
http://www.qipower.net/

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AgHeritage Farm Credit Services, a customer owned business, is the premier source and most dependable provider of credit and related financial solutions to rural and agricultural markets. We are customer focused, financially sound, and provide easy access for customers.

Press Release: AgHeritage Farm Credit Services Introduces Patronage Program

http://www.agheritagefcs.com/images/E0118801/patronage_release.pdf

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I'm currently working on an idea with some friends for a internet information service that will be freely available and for the most part freely updatable. Ultimately we'd like to make the users part of the ownership in some form, such as 10% of the stock is reserved for the people who contribute, and the more you contribute the more stock you would own.

What I'm wondering, is whether this would be legal and if it's considered compensation even if it's not worth anything but could be in the future. For instance, say a service like google gave away stock in their early stages to the people who used the service. Obiously when they go public in the near future that stock would be worth a lot.

Any thoughts on this, even if you're not a lawyer, would be appreciated.

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