ARCHER—Archer Co-op Grain Co. remains independent and thriving.
The 102-year-old cooperative is in the midst of a $3.7 million expansion project that will add 575,000 bushels of storage, increasing its overall capacity to 2.75 million bushels.
Co-op general manager Mike Schon said work started about April 10 and noted weather has been a challenge for the contractors but the project still is slated to be completed to be finished by the fall.
“Surprisingly enough, we’re still generally on target,” he said.
The yard around the co-op is filled with construction materials and brimming with more activity than one normally would find outside of harvest.
Most of the construction is taking place at the site of a former lumberyard on the southwest side of the co-op.
In addition to that project, a giant hole will be dug and filled with sand to house a future grain bin.
“Essentially, then all you have to do is pour concrete and jack the bin down the road; then we don’t have to fight Mother Nature in the future like we had to do this year,” Schon said.
Besides the new bin, the co-op is adding a new long dump pit and building an elevated conveyor system that will connect all of its existing bins.
“We are going to increase our dumping capacity by almost double,” Schon said.
With about 360 member-owners, the co-op can get busy during harvest so improving the facility’s intake ability while also increasing its storage was a must.
“Take grain fast in the fall is the name of the game,” Schon said.
More grain bins also will take pressure off the co-op’s nearly 50-year-old mainstay concrete elevator.
“It can fail and you can’t have that fail in the fall,” Schon said. “Here, we can use the two against each other, meaning they can work well together.”
He noted while the concrete bins have a longer life span, they are significantly more expensive than the steel bins, which is why many elevators have switched to them.
For this project, Archer Co-op is working with entities in and around N’West Iowa including Boyer Sand & Rock of Hawarden, Impact Construction of Boyden, Jay’s Electric in Hull, Ag Builders of Windom, MN, and Musch Construction of Pipestone, MN.
Schon, who finished his first year leading the co-op in May, is excited about this project and the potential it offers the independent operation.
“It really sets us up for the future,” he said.