Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
If this blog sounds a little like a brag on our Monte Vista Co-op; well it is. We live about 70 miles (one way) from our cooperative but we still receive service as if we lived right next door to them in Monte Vista, CO. When we drive to the store the sales personnel are always asking us if they can help us find what we are looking for and offer suggestions and helpful tips. Not only are the employees friendly but the customers are equally friendly. People we have never met engage us in talk about a variety of issues like we have been lifelong friends. That is because our cooperative creates a family environment before its business pursuits. In the 15 years we have been members of the cooperative I have not had one single unpleasant experience. The employees are not only friendly but they are knowledgeable and more than willing to help you make wise decisions on hardware and equipment.
When you attend the annual meeting you can sit down at any table and it is just like you are at a very large family reunion. People greet you warmly and the one thing everyone mutually has in common is the cooperative. You will learn which crops were good and which ones not so good and hear about prices and the impact they have on all of us. You will be engaged in a variety of community topics in a friendly family oriented atmosphere over a meal together. For members like us whose family is scattered across the country you come away with the feeling of having just experienced a close family gathering. The variety of conversations will put you at ease and you realize you are a part of a larger family even though there are no blood ties. Due to the driving distance we have not always been able to attend but when we have we thoroughly enjoyed the togetherness with other members.
A recent example of the service and cooperative nature (no pun intended) which I can illustrate would be getting our tractor ready for winter. Our immediate community has gone from outsourcing our road maintenance to purchasing our own equipment. I perceive some glitches may occur this winter that will be unexpected so I wanted to be fully prepared so we are not adversely effected ourselves. One of our concerns is making sure our Kubota BX2200 tractor and snow thrower were winter ready for our upcoming snow season. I drove over to our co-op to discuss several options with the heavy equipment manager and see what his thoughts were. As usual he provided me with enough data to make a good sensible decisions therefore saving us money and wasted effort.
I needed to have a fan belt replaced and two new front tires installed that I had put off over the summer. I was quickly running out of time to have this maintenance done. A large concern I had was the mileage charge to come and get the tractor or bring the repairman to our tractor. I was considering several options including the purchase of a utility trailer to carry the tractor to the service facility. While I was attempting to work out a solution that would work for us and which we could afford I received a call from Kent, the heavy equipment manager. He said he had a vacation home not far from us which needed to be winterized and could he bring their utility trailer with him to pick up our tractor take it back to the shop for the needed repairs when he came over to winterized his house. He stated since he was coming this way there would be no transportation charge. He then came by and we loaded the tractor and he took it home with him and then the following Monday took it to the repair shop where the needed maintenance was accomplished in the same day.
He called me again to make arrangements to return the tractor and suggested since he lived about half way between us and the cooperative that I meet him at a specific location in between. We could transfer the trailer from his truck to our truck in order for us to bring the tractor home. Then I could bring the trailer back to the half way point and he would see it was returned to the co-op the following day. I told him I would just bring it back to the co-op the same day so it would not be out of use that long - which I did. This is typical of the quality service and willingness to serve their members that we receive from our local cooperative. Whether you are a large farm or ranch of smaller customer like myself the service is always considerate and friendly - not to mention helpful. It doesn’t matter if it is the heavy equipment division, the propane division or the hardware store. It seems that they consistently provide service above and beyond what you could ever expect.
Therefore my challenge is this: Do readers of this blog who are also members of a cooperative receive similar service from their co-op? If so it would be nice to hear other experiences from different areas of the country. Is our cooperative setting the customer service bar or are there other cooperatives that provide equal or better service? Since we live down here in rural Southern Colorado we have no idea what other cooperatives are like. All our personal experiences have been very favorable and if others have had similar experiences it would be nice to share them with readers and weigh in on the subject. Cooperatives are great places to deal with and now is a chance to recognize yours if they are satisfying your needs as well as ours does for us. So how does your cooperative measure up?
For more on Bruce and Carol McElmurray and remote mountain living go to: http://www.brucecarolcabin.blogspot.com