Centennial Celebration

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Where It All Began

Otley & Monroe

  • A Year of Firsts

    • The Otley-Monroe Co-op started to sell twine; orders were taken by giving a general ring on the telephone.
    • The co-op made an agreement that would no longer sell flour if two local men, Renaud and Vreizelaar, would stop selling feedstuffs. This was the co-op’s first no-compete clause.

  • Heading into the Great Depression, Growth Continues

    • As the Great Depression grew closer, 12 people bid for a job opening at the co-op. Gerrit Klein was hired with the right to fire him at any time.
    • The co-op purchased its first truck to be used for chicken hauling.

  • Soybeans & Oil Added to Co-op Services

    • The Otley Monroe Co-op began to handle soybeans.
    • The co-op purchased its own oil and fuel tanks to start the Farmers Cooperative Exchange Oil Company. All products were to be purchased from Farm Bureau Service Company.

  • It’s Electric!

    • The elevator was converted to electricity to power the engine.

  • A Year of Co-op Re-organization

    • The Articles of Incorporation and By-Laws were changed from an interest rate paid on the face value of the shares of stock to the current patronage based on the amount of business done by the member at their co-op.

  • Out with the Old, in with the New

    • The co-op exited the creamery business.
    • A grinder and mixer were purchased to enhance the feed business.

  • Oil in Otley

    • The oil station on the main highway in Otley was purchased.

  • Co-op Service Expansion

    • The co-op had a record number of 370 members as of the 25th Annual Meeting.
    • The co-op saw the loss of the stockyards due to its dismantling by the railroad.
    • An electric water pressure system was installed in the office and poultry house.
    • A new 50-foot Fairbanks-Morse scale was purchased and installed.
    • A new hoist was installed in the grain elevator due to the fact larger wagons and trucks were now being used to deliver grain.

  • Need for Speed

    • A new two-ton Chevrolet truck was purchased for the cost of $1,901.50.
    • Another Chevrolet truck, this one a one-ton short wheelbase unit, was purchased from Whiteway Auto at a cost of $2,145.00.

  • The Nifty Fifties

    • The old gas station was sold and a modern, up-to-date facility was built. The new station had a mechanic on duty and provided oil and grease service work, and wash jobs.
    • A new 1954 two-ton Chevrolet 197 truck with hoist and grain box was purchased for $2,721.98, plus the trade-in of the old truck.

  • Feed Mill in Monroe

    • Approval was given to build a new feed mill at the Monroe location for a cost of $38,817.

  • Monroe Fire

    • A fire destroyed the feed mill, elevator, three vehicles, and the office in Monroe. Firemen responded from Monroe and five other communities to battle the blaze and were successful in preventing it from spreading to the anhydrous ammonia tanks and the fuel facilities.

  • Otley Expansion

    • Additional grain storage facilities were built
    • Purchased the Standard Oil Plant
    • Purchased the first Big A in 1974 for a cost of $9,000
    • Purchased the land south of Otley, where the petroleum plant is now located
    • Built a shop/warehouse facility

  • Future Leadership

    • Instituted the Associate Board allowing young farmer-members to learn about the co-op’s inner workings, with the hope that they would become viable board members in the future.

  • Farm Crisis

    • Government grain programs reduced farmer’s income, and the expansion from the 1970s caught up with many people. Escalating interest rates caught many off-guard, and ways to maximize the investments of our members became a priority.

  • Possible Mergers

    • There was a discussion regarding merging with the Sully Co-op. The merger received 62% approval but a 66.66% majority was required for approval. The merger fell 11 votes short of approval.
    • Discussion about merging with the Prairie City Co-op began as well. Negotiations continued throughout most of the year before it was determined that it wasn’t in the best interest of Otley-Monroe members.

  • Under New Management

    • On August 26th, Craig Hetland was hired as General Manager.

  • The 80s Come to an End

    • Due to EPA and DEQ requirements for underground storage of petroleum products, it was decided to close the Otley fuel station.

  • Monroe Expansion

    • After grain bin failure in Monroe, a $450,000 renovation project was undertaken. The existing grain legs and dryers were replaced, adding an additional wet corn holding bin and increased storage by about 150,000 bushels. The co-op also added an outside dump for corn to ease the fall harvest pressure on feed loading.

  • 75th Anniversary

    • The co-op built a new chemical facility because of increasing business and new environmental laws concerning secondary containment.
    • By the 75th Annual Meeting, the co-op had total sales of $11,633,000 with local savings of $203,650 and total savings of $356,650. The cooperative had 440 members, with member’s equity of $2,242,000 and total assets of $4,283,120.
    • Read more to learn about the services offered in 1995 »

Pella Farmer’s Co-op Exchange

  • Humble Start

    • Manager, C. Dieleman was hired for a wage of 6 cents cwt on livestock shipments.
    • An old canning factory was used to store the co-op’s supplies, and they started doing business from this building.

  • And It Begins

    • At the general meeting, the membership voted to form a stock company with an authorized capital of $75,000; shares sold at $100.
    • On March 20, the membership voted to purchase the Vander Zyl elevator for $20,000.

  • Construction Ensues

    • A committee was appointed to supervise the construction of a 24 x 50 x 8 building at the cost of $500.

  • Applications Aplenty

    • A truck driver resigned, and they received 35 applications for the job, a sign of the times as the Great Depression started.

  • Eggs-ternal Order Causes Problems

    • The finances of the organization were further depleted when a check for eggs sold to a firm bounced.

  • Co-op Culture Not the Only Bonus

    • According to the 1941 Annual Report, there was a net profit of $4,770.00. The board felt the employees should be rewarded for a job well done and voted to give each a $20.00 bonus.

  • A New Place to Call “The Office”

    • The board authorized the construction of an office building at the elevator to provide space so that bookkeeping and management could be moved from the store uptown.

  • Co-op Financial Crisis

    • In May, the new manager reported that checks for hogs sold to a certain customer could not be cashed due to lack of funds. This put the co-op in a financial bind for funds for operating capital. A sum of $16,000.00 was involved. Needless to say, this affected the net profit for the year.

  • Feed Room Fire

    • On February 14th, a fire broke out in the feed room, causing significant damage feed mixing machinery. After consideration, the board gave the go-ahead to build a new feed mixing machine and warehouse to replace the building severely damaged by fire. This new set-up proved to be a much more efficient operation.

  • Keeping Up with Times

    • As farming was changing, the co-op also made changes to keep up with supplies and services for farmers. Commercial fertilizer was being used in much greater quantities, so the board decided to make fertilizer available in bulk. In July, a contract was let to construct a bulk fertilizer plant.

  • One Door Opens and Another Closes

    • The feed business had grown considerably. Many customers brought their grain to be processed and mixed by the co-op. This made it necessary to adopt a grain bank policy and start a bulk feed delivery service.
    • The grocery department was not thriving so the board authorized to close the store.

  • Grain Dryers Added

    • With the invention of the self-propelled combine, it became necessary to install grain dryers.

  • Co-op Continues to Grow

    • Looking to the future, the co-op needed room for expansion, the Vander Zyl property was purchased. The building on the property was used in connection with a new modern lumberyard that was built on the site.
    • More business created the need for more buildings. A 64,000-bushel annex was constructed adjacent to the elevator and existing annex.

  • The End of the Egg Era

    • The Glidden Quality Egg Marketing Association closed so the co-op had nowhere to process members’ eggs. This had a noticeable effect on the net profit for the year with the loss amount for the egg business equaling $32,000.
    • After buying eggs for many years, the trend of the times indicated that this service was being used by fewer patrons and it was decided to discontinue this service.

Can You Help Us Tell More of Our Story?

We’re looking for any photos or artifacts that illustrate the last 100 years of our cooperative, including the Otley-Monroe Cooperative and Farmer’s Exchange Cooperative. These may be used in all aspects of commemoration like newsletters, social media, and a forthcoming book.


Two Rivers Cooperative

  • February

    • A merger plan was approved by the Board of Directors of both cooperatives after two months of discussion. Four joint membership meetings were held in February and March 2001 to discuss the future plans of the two cooperatives merging to form a new cooperative.

  • March 23rd

    • Membership votes to merge the two co-ops.

  • April 1st

    • The first day of joint operations as Two Rivers Cooperative.

  • Soybean Storage Additions

    • Pella added a new soybean storage bin and dump along with a new grain dryer.

  • Pella Scales Up

    • A new scale was constructed at the Pella location.

  • Expansion Leads to More Opportunities for Monroe

    • Large facility expansion completed in Monroe which included a new office and scale.

  • Pella Project Complete

    • The Pella corn bin addition was completed.

  • Expansion Plans Lead to Tracy

    • The land was purchased to build the Tracy location.

  • Serving Farmers & The Land Better

    • Tracy location was built to provide needed services to farmers in the Tracy area. In April of 2011, a construction project at the construction at the Tracy location started on the initial stages of excavation on the office and warehouse.

  • TRC Breaks 25-Year Record!

    • TRC passed all segments of an extensive FDA Inspection for the 25th consecutive year and received the Land O’ Lakes Quality Assurance Award to recognize TRC’s commitment to quality.

  • Cover Crop Services

    • Two Rivers began custom drilling services of cover crops in response to the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy.

  • TRC Offers Direct Deposit & Farm Publications

    • TRC offers direct deposit for TRC grain customers. This simplified the process since previously customers had to call in to order.
    • Two Rivers began publishing an Agronomy publication called Soil Report. This publication is sent out twice a year, during peak seasons for the Agronomy team and local producers.

  • Nutrient Reduction Goals & Resources

    • Des Moines Water Works begins a lawsuit against three northwest Iowa counties. TRC urges customers to reflect on their own operations and to familiarize themselves with the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy.
    • Two Rivers updates the look on their website, making it more user-friendly.
    • Two Rivers adds a John Deere 4030 to the fertilizer fleet. This piece of equipment brings added benefit to patrons by giving flexibility in application timing and the ability to work towards Iowa’s common goal of reducing nutrient loss and run-off.

  • Bushels & Bushels of Storage!

    • Expansion Project to the Monroe grain receiving capacities began as well as the addition of a grain dryer and 515,000-bushel storage bin.

  • Tracy Location Sees Expansion

    • The Two Rivers Cooperative Board of Directors approved an expansion project at the Tracy location. This expansion consisted of an additional storage capacity of 500,000 bushels.

  • Craig Hetland Takes On New Role

    • Craig Hetland was the General Manager of Otley-Monroe from 1986 – 1996. That role affirmed his strong tie to the co-op system, and when Tracy Gathman asked Craig if he would be interested in helping manage and plan the new Tracy Two Rivers location in 2008, Craig proudly took on the task. Craig retired at the end of January 2018.

  • 100th Year Anniversary

    • Two Rivers Cooperative celebrates 100 years of serving area members.
    • Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, TRC postpones the celebration of the event.