We have come a long way
· On June 18th 1915, the farmers of the Cairo Community joined together and formed a cooperative. At that time, there were no other cooperatives in the vicinity and very few in other areas. The area farmers saw an opportunity to increase their returns by joining together and marketing their grain cooperatively.
· The Board President was John McGeffin. Their first act of business was to buy out a private elevator belonging to E. B. Sitton, which included a small elevator with a capacity of 3,500 bushels. There were 50 members of the cooperative that contributed $100 each. The first manager was Benard McGafin. After the cooperative started to grow, many of the local farmers started to notice their success.
· Their next venture was to build an elevator in the Waldeck area where there was an independently owned facility already owned by the Barkers. Instead of building a new facility, the Barkers agreed to sell their 5,000 elevator to the cooperative.
· After Benard McGafin, there were locals from the community to serve as manager. Guy Sitton, George Rosenbaum and Marion Williams to mention a few.
· Johnson Co-op Grain began in the 1930s with storage of 18,000 bushels.
Harvest in Johnson circa 1930-40.
· In 1944, there was a growing demand for service in the Big Bow area. The need was met by buying the facilities of a small elevator and hardware store.
· In 1947-48, the Cooperative had to meet a demand for elevator service at Manter. As a result, a new concrete 80,000 bushel elevator was built and the service station business was added.
· The super service station was built in Johnson in 1948.
Construction of the Johnson elevator during the 1950s. Photo taken by Vicky Hammond Jasper.
· In 1951, they added a feed grinding facility at Waldeck and eventually put in a roller.
· The Co-op decided it need to start updating facilities to handle their crops so in 1942 they built a 103,000 concrete elevator for $26,000 and also in 1951 the Co-op built 100,000 bushel elevator at Cairo for $82,237.00. In 1953, another 221,000 bushel elevator was added at Cairo in 1953 to keep up with the demand.
· In Johnson, the fertilizer department was added in 1959.
· A new concrete elevator was built in 1959 at Saunders and also included a service station.
A group of men traveled to Kansas City, Missouri to visit the Co-op on March 1, 1961.
· In 1958, The Co-op built a 255,000 bushel elevator in Cunningham and later added the annex in 1976 making it a 550,000 bushel elevator.
· In the fall of 1975, the Co-op built a million bushel elevator in Johnson.
· Dale Parson became manager on March 1st, 1960 and was there 41 years until his retirement in February 28, 2001. During Dale’s career with the Cairo Co-op, he saw many changes and substantial growth through the years.
· On February 1, 1988, the Preston Co-op merged with the Cairo Co-op bringing along
the Preston and Turon locations.
· Another merger took place February 18, 1988 with the Penalosa Co-op bringing in
Penalosa, Brown Spur and Calista into the group. Finally in 1994, Arlington merged
with Cairo bringing the total location count to 9 grain elevators.
· In 1992, several Co-ops in the area including Cairo went together and formed
Co-Mark Inc. which was a purchasing group.
· In 1999, Cairo Co-op and Farmers Co-op of Garden Plain purchased a 2 million bushel elevator in Wichita forming CCGP.
· Another joint venture between Garden Plain and Cairo Co-op in 2003 formed Prairie King LLC but was only in operation until 2007 and was then sold to Garden Plain.
· In December of 2005, Cairo bought into a joint venture named Hutchinson Fertilizer LLC. The facility is owned by Cairo Co-op, Garden Plain Co-op, MKC and ADM. This facility has given them opportunities to buy in larger quantities.
· Looking forward to aging facilities, the Cairo Co-op has built 2 new elevators within the
past several years. In 2005, Calista South was built with a capacity of 300,000
bushel legging capacity
· Since Parson’s retirement in 2001, there have been 3 other managers that have led the Cairo Co-op successfully. They were Ed Laing (2001-2007), Kent Domsch (2007-2013) and our current CEO is David Cron.
· There are also a group of individuals that serve as the Board of Directors that have played a very important part in giving direction to the manager. There have been several farmers who have served on the Board over the years. The current Board is made up of 5 local Patrons. They are John Steffen-Chairman, Kenny Bock-Vice President, Gary Barker-Secretary, Steve Freund-Director and Jared Glenn-Director.
· In March of 2008, Skyland Grain became part owner of the Sante Fe Trail Grain Terminal LLC. The shuttle loader can load 108 rail cars.
· In 2008, Co-Mark Grain was formed and in 2014 Co-Mark Energy.
· In June of 2009 we purchased facilities in Elkhart and Rolla from Cargill, increasing our storage by 2.7 million bushels.
· On February 1, 2010, Syracuse Cooperative Exchange became an owner and partner of the joint venture.
· Then in 2014, a new facility was built one half mile north of Preston. It has 600,000 bushel capacity with 40,000 bushel per hour legging capabilities.
· Cairo Cooperative Equity Exchange became an owner and member of the venture on May 1, 2015.
· In February 2015, Cairo Co-op sold its half to Farmers Co-op Garden Plain.
· On March 31, 2015 the Cairo Co-op Board of Directors decided to exit all of the Co-Mark companies.
· Syracuse Cooperative Exchange merged into Johnson Cooperative Grain Co. on February 1, 2016.
· Cairo Cooperative Equity Exchange merged into Johnson Cooperative Grain Co. on January 31, 2017.
· At the annual meeting in May of 2017, the membership unanimously approved to change the combined cooperatives’ name to Skyland Co-op, Inc. Today, Skyland Grain LLC operates grain elevators in twenty two (22) locations: (19) Kansas communities; Syracuse, Kendall, Big Bow, Johnson, Manter, Saunders, Elkhart, Rolla and Dermot within our western region. Our eastern region contains grain elevators in Cunningham, Cairo, Preston, Turon, Penalosa, Brown Spur, Waldeck, Calista, Arlington and South Cairo. We also have (3) grain elevators in Colorado. One located (5) miles east of Walsh and the second at Buckeye, (21) miles south of Holly, and the third at Vilas, (17) miles west of Walsh. Total licensed storage capacity is approximately 45,953,000 bushels.