Sanders, Before Seed, Beyond Harvest
OptiGro Location

Sanders Acquires Co-ops in Expansion of its Arkansas Retail Operations

Friday, February 5, 2010 - Cleveland, MS

Jimmy Sanders, Inc., the mid-south's largest locally owned agricultural input supply company, has completed the purchase of all assets from Craighead Farmers Cooperative and St. Francis County Farmers Association in northeastern Arkansas. The acquisition will double the number of the Jimmy Sanders, Inc. locations in Arkansas from 9 to 18. The offer to purchase the Cooperative's assets was voted on, and unanimously accepted, by the directors and members of the cooperatives in December of 2009. "It was an easy decision… Sanders is a family owned and operated business based in the south," said Anthony Bracy, Board President for the Craighead County Farmers Coop, " they'll be able to continue operating the (co-op) locations as they are now, with the current employees and keep money circulating in the communities – rather than sending it overseas or to Canada." “We are confident that the Sanders organization is capable of providing our current customers with the kind of innovation and product support that they deserve,” added Luther Liedlong, Board President for the St. Francis County.

The coops service a large portion of the northeast Arkansas farm communities and have provided much of the same agricultural input supplies and services as current Jimmy Sanders retail locations including seed, chemicals, fertilizer, precision agriculture prescription and custom application services. Tires, maintenance and fuel sales will be new additions to the Jimmy Sanders, Inc. product line throught the coop purchase. In addition, the coops also expand the services of the current Sanders business portfolio to include full-time CCA Certified Crop Advisors. This service is a compliment to the Sanders OptiGro® brand of precision agriculture and provides weekly consultation and advisory services from pre planting to post harvest. OptiGro® is a precision ag program that has recently gained much attention and interest from the agricultural community with the introduction of the AutoProbe®, robotic soil sampler. This innovative product increases sampling efficiency and produces more accurate data than the traditional, manual sampling techniques. The AutoProbe™ is a GPS driven sampling machine the pulls a, 6 inch core every 16 feet, or up to 20 cores every minute. The auto-steer function allows the operator to ride comfortably in the cab to collect and bag the individual samples which are pneumatically delivered from the machine while it is in operation. The result of this workflow process is that the samples are bagged, tagged and ready to go to the lab as soon as the AutoProbe is finished and on its way to the next field. “This is real farm ingenuity,” said Jeff Dearborn, Director of New Technology at Jimmy Sanders, Inc. “The AutoProbe™ does the work more accurately and in one-third of the time of manual sampling. It allows us to get the sampling results back and make accurate prescriptions for application faster than ever.” “Ultimately, the AutoProbe™ gives our customers a jump on planting by having the knowledge and satisfaction of an accurate sampling and prescription plan earlier than usual.” As part of the OptiGro® brand of precision ag products and services, the AutoProbe™ service is exclusive to Jimmy Sanders, Inc. and will be now be available to the customers of the former coops.

The coop acquisitions will give Sanders a larger Arkansas footprint by adding the cooperative's nine retail locations Bono, Lake City, Cash, Weiner (2), Jonesboro, Forrest City, Palestine and Heth. Sanders has been operating in Arkansas for several years with locations in Clarendon, Leachville, Light, Marianna, Marvell, McCrory, Wilmont, Stuttgart and Wynne. "We couldn't be happier to have the opportunity to grow in Arkansas through this purchase," said Mike Sanders, Board Chairman of Jimmy Sanders, Inc., "This is a win-win for the customers and employees of both parties, as well as the cities and towns where they are located." Combined, the former coops employ about 115 employees and have a total of 1,176 member-owners. All current coop employees will be able to continue to work under the new ownership. Jimmy Sanders, Inc. was started in 1953 by Jimmy Sanders, a native of Tippo, MS, and currently provides agricultural input products and precision ag services with 55 retail and port locations throughout Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, Arkansas and Alabama. The company has been serving mid-south farmers for over 57 years with ag input supplies and services and has continued to strengthen its customer's loyalty throughout the years by remaining a locally, family-owned business in an industry saturated with competitors that are part of global conglomerates. "We exist to stimulate growth in the fields and the communities of the customers that we serve," said Barry Knight, Executive Vice President and Director of Operations for Jimmy Sanders, Inc., "That's how we continue to grow the Jimmy Sanders brand and customer base before seed and beyond harvest."