Membership will benefit with the highest patronage distribution in co-op history
Mt. Angel, OR, March 4, 2021 – Wilco’s 55th Annual Meeting reported record returns to members, growth into neighboring states, and a resilient workforce that succeeded as essential workers during the pandemic, all while providing steady customer service during historically high retail sales.
“During a year of challenges, we’re very proud to be farmer-owned, and grateful to our member loyalty, and our dedicated employees,” said Sam Bugarsky, President & CEO of Wilco. “Wilco’s 2020 record net earnings provide unique opportunities for us to support our customers and communities more than ever, and Wilco remains committed to our mission of strengthening agriculture and rural lifestyles,” Bugarsky added.
It was announced that Wilco’s consolidated business produced record net income in 2020. The Wilco Farm Stores, Wilco Energy, Hazelnut Growers of Oregon (HGO), and joint venture Valley Agronomics combined for a net income of over $8 million. Record community giving was also revealed at the annual meeting, with thousands towards protective equipment to first responders when the pandemic started, over $120,000 going to local wildfire relief efforts, over $200,000 to Ag Youth programs like FFA, 4H, and Equestrian, and more than $150,000 in rebates for those with Youth Accounts to go towards their projects and future Wilco purchases.
“While we’re pleased to report historic highs in many areas of our business, we still have work to do,” Bugarsky emphasized. Despite a strong hazelnut harvest and continued progress, COVID-19 was an added setback to the growth of the Oregon Orchard brand and adding innovative, new products to retail shelves. On this front, Wilco stated they sought out an outside professional who confirmed their plan is good for both HGO’s future and the hazelnut industry, but the time and investment to get there is enough that the cooperative intends to seek out a strategic partner for HGO to more quickly achieve results.
Informational member meetings took place on February 9 and February 11, 2021, to announce Wilco board candidates, discuss proposed bylaw changes and explain the mail-in ballot procedure that would take place this year due to COVID-19 gathering restrictions shifting the annual meeting to a virtual format. Mail-in ballots were due March 1, 2021, and the results included the reelection of all incumbent Board Members and the passing of all proposed bylaw updates.