As 2019 heads for the finish line, I’ve just completed putting together our magazine’s CropLife 100, the annual list of the nation’s top ag retailers. Now every year it seems, a handful of companies tend to disappear from the rankings, usually through consolidating or merging with other members of the CropLife 100. And the 2019 CropLife 100 was no exception, with an even dozen ag retailers changing names/hands or outright closing up shop.
Usually, however, once I finish the CropLife 100 listing, things settle down a little bit. But 2019 has been an extraordinary year thus far across much of agriculture. So, of course, I shouldn’t have expected this year’s CropLife 100 to perform any differently.
Case in point – the 2019 CropLife 100 will already be a CropLife 99 shortly after the new year dawns. Back as I was working on the annual rankings, I received a press release that Mid Kansas Coop, the No. 60 company on the 2019 CropLife 100 with 43 outlets, was planning to acquire Mid-West Fertilizer, the No. 68 company in 2019 with 21 outlets, some time during the first quarter of 2020.
Then, less than two weeks ago, another CropLife 100 merger was announced. On January 1, Gar Tootelian, the No. 37 company on the 2019 CropLife 100, will merge with Bennett Water Systems of Lemoore, CA. The new company will operate under the name Gar Bennett, LLC.
“The merger of Bennett Water Systems with Gar raises the bar and brings together two locally-owned family businesses with outstanding reputations for integrity and trust with complimentary cultural values, products, and services,” said Gar Tootelian CEO Greg Musson, announcing the merger on November 13. “Together, our opportunities are endless.”
Given how quickly these first mergers of 2020 have happened, I would expect several more to occur between now and when the 2020 CropLife 100 is finalized one year from now.