Bloomington, Ill. (December 1, 2020) – For the first time in its history, GROWMARK, Inc. held its 2020 Annual Meeting in a virtual online event today. Hundreds of people from across North America, including shareholders, boards of directors, and friends of the GROWMARK System all participated in the interactive live broadcast.
Normally the GROWMARK Annual Meeting happens every August at the Hilton Chicago, but in an effort to keep everyone safe and comply with Illinois mitigation measures, the decision was made to hold it virtually after the fiscal year closed on August 31st.
“With mitigation measures evolving every week in Illinois, we had to continually adapt to keep our team members safe while also delivering an informative and interactive meeting for GROWMARK System stakeholders,” said Cliff Dolbeare, manager of corporate programming. “The feedback we have received has been overwhelmingly positive and allowed a broader audience to participate that may not have been able to travel to Chicago in past years.”
Holding the meeting in December allowed for audited financial results to be presented in full, and also bring an update after the acquisition of certain Southern States Cooperative agronomy and energy assets.
“We grow not just to get bigger but to get better,” said GROWMARK Chairman of the Board and President John Reifsteck. “The recent partnership with Southern States is an opportunity for us to do both. GROWMARK pursues expansion opportunities if they allow us to serve more farmers and benefit the current farmer-owners of the GROWMARK System. We are especially open to partnerships with farmers who value the cooperative business model. That’s why the Southern States agreement is such a good fit. I’m very excited about this partnership and want to welcome Southern States and 46 local cooperatives to the System.”
“Since we closed over two months ago, we have made great strides in synchronizing operations,” added GROWMARK CEO Jim Spradlin. “As John mentioned, all 46 Southern States members signed special membership agreements. GROWMARK’s Energy and Agronomy employees are engaged with our new GROWMARK members, seeking to earn their business every day. I’m pleased to say the partnership is designed to help each other succeed.”
Despite the challenges from COVID-19, a devastating derecho storm in key Midwest markets, and energy volatility in the markets, GROWMARK Chief Financial Officer Wade Mittelstadt said financial performance was very respectable with strong earnings from operations. GROWMARK was able to distribute nearly $66 million in patronage distributions to shareholders this year.
“GROWMARK continues to maintain our strong financial position, excellent liquidity and we are well positioned for long-term growth,” added Mittelstadt. “We continue to focus on delivering solid financial results and maintaining a strong and efficient distribution network. We are committed to executing on our GROW enterprise strategy, and to delivering an unsurpassed customer experience. Our balanced approach to prioritizing capital positions us for growth which creates value for shareholders, rewards shareholders with solid returns, and provides financial flexibility for GROWMARK to take advantage of marketplace opportunities.”