Source: News-Journal, August 16, 1973 Centennial Section

Big Jobs, Little Jobs Done By Co-op

If you ever have a broken window, don't fret. Eldon Biehl at the Farm Bureau Lumber Co-op is at your service.

According to Manager Jim Reed, the Farm Bureau Lumber Co-op has almost a full service of building of any kind. "If we haven't got it, we'll get it," said Reed. He further adds that they do both big jobs and small jobs as well.

"Nearly 1/2 of our business is farm buildings," said Jim Hegel, assistant manager. Confinement buildings have become a specialty in the last 4 years. Confinement buildings are used to raise animals in controlled environments.

Last year, 150,000 square feet of confinement buildings were built. Nearly 57,000 square feet of the total amount were hog confinement buildings. Their reputation for confinement buildings has not been limited to Wabash County.

Manager Reed says that his former experience as a building contractor has been helpful to him as he can anticipate problems, figure jobs and also do the design work. He estimates that 1/2 of the business is building and remodeling homes. Some of his staff advise on house plans and decorating.

The Farm Bureau Lumber co-op came into being in 1946 in its present location. It was started as a service to people in the community. Its uniqueness is that it is a cooperative. Anyone who buys at Farm Bureau Lumber Co-op automatically becomes a share holder.

Wabash is one of the few counties that pays dividends. A board of directors approved such a policy many years ago. Of course, another important factor is that the organization needs to make a profit.

How much does one need to buy to share in the profit? Reed figures that last year, people who bought as much as $150 to $200 received a shareholder check in the mail.

The Farm Bureau Lumber Co-op is not automatically tied to every business with a Farm Bureau label. There are 10 branches in this particular cooperative. The business includes 4 elevators, 2 fertilizer plants, 2 lumber yards, a farm store and a petroleum plant. The profit is figured on the basis of the whole cooperative.

In the last 4 years, the number of employees has doubled. People who are employed currently are Don Creager, Sales; Carolyn Brubaker, Secretary; Wayne Steffen, Yard Foreman; tom Hess and Dave Russell, Deliveries.