The Co-op announced another great year as total revenues jumped to a little more than $40 million, which was an increase of almost $1 million from 2012 – which had also been a record-setting total. As a result of those strong earnings, the Co-op board has approved a patronage refund to its members of $1,757,375, with 50 per cent of that total ($812,000) coming in the form of cash paid back to members. The funds come on the heels of another generous payout over the past two years, when the Board voted to refund $1.63 million in 2013 and $1.61 in 2012. Over the past three years alone, almost $5 million has gone back to members in the form of patronage refunds. The Co-op delivered the good news during the organization’s annual meeting last Monday night. About 50 people attended the gathering held at the Canalta Hotel. “It is because of your dedication and local support that the Shaunavon Co-op continues to grow and prosper,” said general manager Geoff Anderson. Broken down, the patronage allocation for 2013 includes 7% on all fuels and oil, 5% on agro and crop protection products, 3% on food purchases and 5% on hardware and lumber. Members will receive that money this summer when the Co-op hands out statements and cheques during the annual Equity Day celebrations in June at all three communities served by the organization. The event will include barbecues at each site with all of the proceeds going to a good cause. Anyone who does not pick up their statement or cheques by the end of June will receive them in the mail in July. “Again, without the dedication and support from our board, staff and our Co-op members this would not have been possible,” stated Anderson. The remaining half of the allocation will go to member equity. The equity accounts are paid out when members reach the age of 69 or if they move from the community. The Co-op also offers a 100 per cent payout after members reach the equity cap, which has now risen to $18,000. In his report to members at last week’s gathering, Anderson also pointed to several other Co-op initiatives in 2013, including its continued commitment to staff training and customer service. A quarterly mystery shopping program, for instance, produced results that showed average scores of over 90 per cent based on criteria that included customer service, image and standards. “I am happy to report that over the last year our managers and staff have worked hard to increase those results,” said Anderson. “We believe that customers come first and that in order to move forward all of our members should be treated as guests when coming into our stores.” The Co-op has also increased its support and services to its agricultural departments. Some of the services the Co-op now offers include crop analysis, soil sampling, professional advice on crop input planning and equipment. Community involvement also remains a big part of the local Co-op operation. The organization continues to make donations to a wide variety of local projects and programs that range from fuel for the Courtesy Van to high school bursaries. “Your board continues to support community groups and organizations through product and cash donations,” Co-op president Randy Morris said in his report to members. “Total donations for 2013 were around $26,000.” Morris also expressed his gratitude for the hard work of fellow board members, management and staff, as well as the ongoing support of local members. “I would like to thank your board for the dedication to making your Co-op a prosperous and successful Co-op,” he concluded. “I would like to thank Geoff for leading our management team to the successful year we had. I would also like to thank the staff for their professional and personable assistance serving our membership. To you, the membership, thank you for making the Shaunavon Co-op such a successful Co-op.” Monday’s meeting, held at the Canalta Hotel in Shaunavon, also featured a number of other business items. Three current directors whose terms were scheduled to end – Leah Lunz, Randy Morris and Owen Sebastian – were all returned to the board by acclamation. Two board members – Randy Morris (21 years) and Owen Sebastian (12 years) – also received service awards.