Membership Has Its Privileges
April 24, 2016
Written By Mark Fenner
Have you ever seen an advertisement you thought sounded too good to be true? In most cases, you’d probably be right. There’s almost always a catch. Some people may feel similarly about cooperatives—and the patronage refunds you can earn as members—but trust me, they are legit!
The fact is, the cooperative is a wonderful business model. It has stood the test of time (86 years in the case of MFA Oil) and continues to be relevant and powerful today. How and why has the co-op model survived this long? Because the folks who primarily use the company (farmers, in our case) are the owners. Our co-op governance aligns with our farmer-owners, and our board is made up entirely of farmers who represent the geographies in which we operate. Best of all, much of our annual profits are returned to our farmer-owners.
Cooperative membership has great value. How value is defined varies depending on whom you ask. We think great service and competitive pricing must be a given. If a company can’t do both on a daily basis, it’s irrelevant. We believe our commitment to service and pricing, combined with all the benefits of membership (ownership, governance, patronage, etc.), brings a tremendous value. In fact, MFA Oil returned $23.7 million in patronage to our members in our 2015 fiscal year—our largest single-year patronage distribution in the history of the company. When you consider all these benefits, why wouldn’t you buy from MFA Oil?
We have made tremendous changes recently we feel our customers will embrace. We know we cannot treat everyone equally due to many variables, but I can assure you that all customers will be treated equitably. That means our offerings will be consistent based on circumstances such as tank size and customer openness to more efficient deliveries. For example, is there a price difference between buying a plane ticket for travel tomorrow versus a month from now? Certainly there is! Allowing us to schedule your deliveries, which improves our efficiency, enables us to offer you better pricing.
At the end of the day, we are looking for win/win relationships. The beauty of this approach is that it aligns seamlessly with what the cooperative system is all about: working together for our collective benefit.