SOURCE Magazine Winter 2023 | Page 7

Southern States has many long-term employees who have stayed with us , and I appreciate them enduring the turbulence – because they believed in the mission and vision of this Cooperative .
– Steve Becraft , Southern States Cooperative CEO

SOURCE | Winter 2023 5


EMBRACE OUR AGRICULTURAL HERITAGE . We recognize the deep roots we share with the farming communities in which we operate . As such , we will continue to embrace the people , the rural way of life , and the leadership opportunity we ’ ve been given for the stewardship and preservation of farming , the environment and our rural communities . to Richmond in 1923 . They formed a new organization , called Virginia Seed Service , and pledged $ 11,000 in startup capital .
They also hired as the first general manager , the visionary Virginia Tech extension agronomist who had called the meeting , W . G . Wysor . The cooperative began distributing feed in 1925 , added a fertilizer service in 1926 and started handling farm supplies and petroleum a few years later .
Geographic expansion occurred as well . Soon after establishing a limited presence in North Carolina in 1933 , the Virginia Seed Service name was changed to Southern States Cooperative . The following year , the co-op made its first permanent expansion beyond Virginia ’ s borders , into Maryland and Delaware . Service was extended to West Virginia in 1941 , and as World War II was winding down in 1945 , the first local Southern States cooperative was opened in Kentucky . Except for a 13-year period of serving local farmer cooperatives in northeastern Tennessee , Southern States operated as a fivestate regional cooperative for four decades .
Then in 1986 , the purchase of the retail stores and many other assets of a Raleigh-based cooperative expanded Southern States ’ service across North Carolina ’ s strong and varied agriculture industry .
Determination . Initiative . Reliability . The cornerstones of a good day ’ s work . We recognize the trust our customers place in us and we realize there will always be challenges . With this in mind , we never let obstacles get in our way and we hold ourselves accountable as we strive to do our best every single day .
ALWAYS BE NEIGHBORLY . We are committed to honor and practice the values we share with our farming communities : integrity , high ethical and moral standards , and respect for the land , patrons and for our associates .
Southern States added livestock marketing stations and other facilities in Kentucky , Michigan , Ohio , and Indiana in a 1998 merger with Michigan Livestock Exchange . Later that year , Southern States purchased the wholesale and retail farm supply system of GoldKist , Inc ., adding states in the Southeast to its operating and service territory .
The year 2000 brought expansion in sales and service area as Southern States assumed the marketing and distribution of farm and home supplies for Agway in 12 northeastern states : Maine , Vermont , New Hampshire , New York , Massachusetts , Connecticut , New Jersey , Rhode Island , Ohio , Pennsylvania , Maryland and Delaware .
For the next 20 years , Southern States operated as both a wholesale and retail supply cooperative serving more than 1,200 retail outlets across 21 states . An evolving agricultural marketplace and consolidation of the agricultural cooperative system presented new challenges for Southern States to maintain the scale required to adequately maintain and grow both its wholesale and retail businesses .
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