The Impact of 2020

May 19, 2021
In the lyrics of Toby Keith’s song “I Love this Bar,” he sings, “We got winners, we got losers, chain smokers and boozers.” Little did he know when he released that song in 2003 that those lyrics would someday sum up what happened in 2020. We saw “Winners” like online retailers, delivery services, streaming entertainment, remote work technology, and residential housing and real estate. “Losers,” on the other hand, were brick & mortar retailers and malls, movie theaters, travel and hospitality, and commercial office space. We also saw people trying various things to cope with lockdowns.

In agriculture, we tend to be steadier with fewer boom and bust cycles, so workloads don’t change during pandemics. Crops still need to get planted and harvested, animals need feeding, and food needs to make its way to the processors and markets. Because United Cooperative is so rooted in Agriculture, our business did not change much in 2020. Sure, our Restaurant and Convenience stores took a hit from the lockdowns and the subsequent loss of commuter traffic and in-person dining, but our Ag-focused business fared pretty well in 2020. While we did not qualify for most Government payments offered to businesses because we have more than 500 employees, we still had a very respectable year. Sales remained above $750 million with solid Feed and Fertilizer volumes offsetting reduced Fuel, Grain, and Retail volumes. Our many construction projects pushed our property and equipment category of the Balance Sheet to over $425 million. Patron Equities grew to over $500 million, and Total Earnings topped $32 million, $8.3 million of which being paid in cash by the time you read this.  

Looking ahead in 2021, we all hope to see the end of the pandemic and a return to NORMAL, like getting together with friends, relatives, and neighbors; going to church in person; getting our kids back in school; going out to eat; traveling and shedding the fear of Covid. Not everything will return to NORMAL, like more working from home, and less commuting and business travel; more online buying, and less in-person shopping at malls and retail stores; more online meetings and training, and less networking and other in-person events.

Here at United Cooperative, we look forward to keeping our focus on Agriculture, our employees safe, our financial house in order, and making sure our customers can “Rely on Us”.

Take care, and have a safe and productive spring.

Karl Beth

Filed Under: Corporate News