Although it was in the early 1960s that the regional co-operative entities began, it was in 1986 that agreement was reached on the benefits of a shared brand in achieving better results for co-operative shareholders. It was the beginning of something special and resulted in a series of mergers, the last of which occured in 2003.
There has been any number of changes over the past 25 years, and the co-operative of today is quite different to that of its inception. The one thing that remains true is the ownership and ultimate direction of the business that is in the hands of those who own it - New Zealand’s farmers.
The key focus of CRT in 2011 and beyond is to remain as relevant for current market conditions as it was when the co-operative was first formed. That means adapting as required and generating growth by taking advantage of opportunities as they arise.
From traditional areas such as card business, feed, seed, fertiliser and farm merchandise, CRT has diversified into real estate, bulk fuel, lubricants, and the development of finance options to meet the requirements of an increasingly diverse range of shareholders. The reintroduction of livestock to CRT is another example of how a farmer-owned organisation can respond to the needs of its members.
Everything the co-operative does is for the benefit of its shareholder base, whether this is directly by reducing the cost of farm inputs, or indirectly by generating better profitability for the co-operative to increase returns to those who own the business.
Growth strategies continue to give CRT the scale it requires to use in negotiations on behalf of its farmer shareholders, and those owners continue to benefit from monthly rebates on purchases, a loyalty rewards programme and bonus distributions of year end surpluses at the discretion of CRT’s Board of Directors.
As always, CRT is in full pursuit of its mission to ensure competition stays alive in New Zealand’s rural heartland as the landscape of rural supplies seems destined to change.