By Ron VandenBoom
The merger of Cenex and Harvest States to form Cenex Harvest States Cooperative has finally brought changes to the two formerly separate Havre operations, but its unlikely area customers will notice a great deal of difference.
Thats the word from Mark Majeres, controller for the Havre Cenex for the past 14 years and new controller for the combined operation.
People in Havre will probably not notice any changes, he said. At this time were not going to bring anything more to the table.
Majeres believes that generally the corporate philosophy behind the year-old merger was to make a more efficient operation that could take the product from the input stage to the grocery store.
Harvest States has some wheat milling plants and grain exporting facilities and Cenex was real big in the crops and (had an) interest in agronomy, fuels and that kind of thing, he said. It was just the way the industry was headed, to integrate that way.
Majeres explained that the two formerly separate entities did not have a lot of overlap in their operations. Harvest States, he said, had placed more emphasis in recent years on value-added products and, in addition to its wheat mills, had also developed soybean oil production facilities that make the raw material for many margarines.
They have that extra ability to market the products, he said.
Cenex, on the other hand, has concentrated its efforts on bulk petroleum, feed, agronomy, and the hardware/convenience store, elements of the industry, Majeres said.
The few areas where overlaps do exist will be standardized, he said.
One thing that has already been standardized is the new general manager, Scott Aberg. Aberg started his career with Cenex in Big Sandy and eventually transferred to the Fort Benton operation where he worked for about eight years before moving to Great Falls. He was appointed general manager of the combined Havre facilities on Oct. 15.
No other personnel changes are expected at the Cenex Harvest States operation, Majeres said.
We see no Havre jobs lost because of the merger, he said. Everybody that was on staff will continue to be on staff.
Nick Baune will be the agronomy manager in Havre and Kevin Johnson will manage the agronomy department in Rudyard. Bob Way will continue as the grain merchandiser in Havre and Lauren Wombold will still be the feed manager. The bulk petroleum manager will still be Kent Prosser and Scott Stockdill will continue to manage the hardware store. The manager of the Lawn Care department will be Craig Guenther.
The merger has prompted the remodeling of some of the office space at the old Harvest States facility east of Havre, Majeres said. The second floor is going to be converted into the business or bookkeeping area and the main operational offices for the combined cooperative will be on the main floor at the east Havre location.
This will be where the general manager and sales staff will have their offices, he said.
One of the most noticeable differences brought on by the merger will be in bookkeeping and billing.
Majeres said he is now in the process of combining the bookkeeping systems of the two entities into one.
Our goal while were doing this is to provide as few upsets to customers as we can, he said, while admitting there may be a bump here and there as they try to combine the two accounting packages.
But overall the new accounting system will actually be a greater convenience for area producers, Majeres said, because the customers will now have to deal only with one billing statement.
Majeres said the goal is to have the two systems united by Jan. 1.
Another change producers can expect to see will be one-stop-shopping.
Producers can stop in at the old Harvest States location and place their order for everything they need, Majeres said, adding that they will no longer have to make two stops first at one location and then the other to order everything they need.
This is expected to save producers phone calls, time, legwork, and paperwork.
Customers of either facility will see little or no change in signs, uniforms, or vehicles, Majeres said, and all of the current trade areas will remain the same.