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United for the better

Humphreys, Dickson, Maury, Marshall, and Williamson Farmers Co-ops consolidate to serve members across Middle Tennessee.
Story by Allison Farley 11/18/2020

The members of Humphreys, Dickson, Maury, Marshall, and Williamson Farmers Co-ops have voted to merge the five businesses into a new Co-op, which will operate as United Home and Farm Cooperative after the reorganization takes effect Feb. 1, 2021.

The newly merged Co-op will maintain its nine existing store locations in Waverly, Centerville, Erin, Dickson, Columbia, Lewisburg, Chapel Hill, Franklin, and Fairview as well as the two crop centers in Mount Pleasant and Dickson.

The new cooperative will have its headquarters in Columbia and has around 5,000 members — 600 from Marshall Farmers, 500 from Humphreys, 1,200 from Dickson, 1,000 from Maury, and 1,200 from Williamson Farmers.

United Home and Farm’s board of directors will be Kenny Cecil, Sam Smith, Mike Henry, Will Gold, Claude Callicott, Tim Barnhill, John Moser, Beth Dawson, Lee Rushton, and Eric Law.

The first board chairman will be Dawson, a row crop and cattle farmer from Narrows of the Harpeth. Members of her family have been a part of Dickson Farmers for over 30 years and she is a six-year veteran of the Co-op’s board. Dawson says she feels optimistic about the future for United and its members.

“This merger needed to take place,” says Dawson. “It gives us more purchasing power and the ability to share assets and inventory, making us more competitive in the marketplace.”

Leaders from the five legacy Co-ops will assume management positions in the new cooperative. Randy Stubblefield of Williamson will serve as chief executive officer; Rob Eubank of Maury has been selected as chief financial officer; and Randy Hite of Humphreys will be chief purchasing officer. Paul Sullivan of Dickson will be Retail Division manager; Keith Farmer of Maury will manage the Agronomy Division; and Brian Ladd of Marshall will become Livestock Division manager/Eastern Region Operations manager.

The reorganization has invigorated the Co-ops, and Brian Ladd says employees and directors are excited about the potential.

“This agreement will allow us to continue to serve our members,” says Ladd. “The bottom line is a business has to remain relevant and helpful to its customers and a move like this is required to do so.”

Paul Sullivan, who has been at Dickson Farmers since 1983, says the merger brings hope for a better future.

“This merger will allow us to be much stronger all around and help to better serve our farmers and nonfarmer customers,” says Sullivan. “Retirement is getting closer each year for me, and I would like to end my more than 40-year adventure knowing we have made the right move to add longevity to our cooperatives.”

Stubblefield adds that United will expand and enhance services in a way that the individual Co-ops might never been able to offer on their own.

“We have 18 fertilizer trucks, 16 trucks, three custom spray applicators, a pasture sprayer, and high-clearance spreaders to be able to use across the system,” says Stubblefield. “We will also offer farm service trucks to help farmers in the area if tires go down in the field. Not all of these stores have offered these services before.”

United management is also optimistic about the new combination of staff and the services those individuals will bring to the table.

“Having people who can help farmers on their farm is a big advantage for us,” says Stubblefield. “As individual Co-ops, we simply couldn’t afford a veterinarian, a team of livestock specialists, or agronomists. But as a group, we will be able to offer much more in the future.”

Because of the power these cooperatives will have together, they chose the name United Home and Farm because it reflected the focus on traditional customers and the hometown store aspect of the new combined business.

“These cooperatives are all successful and have a long history of helping farmers across middle Tennessee,” says Stubblefield. “But together, we can expand services and provide new opportunities to our farmer-owners and customers.”

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