Pioneer Co-op had another record year in 2023, which was reflected in its annual general meeting. 

Hosted at the Living Sky Casino, members of Pioneer Co-op and its Board of Directors were able to indulge in a roast beef supper before unloading the details of the prior year.

Running the show for Pioneer Co-op during the AGM was Board Chair, Uli Cartman. He was able to announce that in 2023, the local Co-op generated over $383 million in sales. 

Cartman speaking before the gathered Pioneer Co-op members.Cartman speaking before the gathered Pioneer Co-op members.

"It tells us that the members are supporting us," said Cartman. "As we provide more services, with things like liquor having given a boost in our sales. Anytime that we can increase our services to members, it's a bonus."

Indeed, members of Pioneer Co-op saw a return of over $14.6 million in patronage allocation. That's money that goes back into members' pockets and into local efforts around the community.

Given that 2023 was another record year for Pioneer Co-op in terms of sales, it should come as no surprise that Pioneer Co-op continued to expand in southwest Sask. 

The last year saw the opening of a new tire shop in Bracken, a new farm centre in Eastend, and upgrades made to the Wheatland Mall refrigeration sections in the grocery store. There was also an upgrade made at all food centres, being an electronic shelf label system. 

Perhaps the most significant for Swift Current residents in terms of services was the acquisition and rebranding of the Husky service station on South Service Road and Sixth Avenue Northeast. 

"For eastbound traffic, we could never get property," said Cartman. "When this came up through [Federatred Co-operatives Limited]'s purchase, it was good for us."

Not everyone at the AGM was satisfied with the continued growth of the Pioneer Co-op. Certain ex-employees of the company were in the crowd. When it came to the question period, they made their voices heard.

The question was ventured of why if the sales are so high, and each year is a new record, do employees struggle to make ends meet? And again, if it's the people who make sure the service is the best, and if it's the people who ensure the operation runs smoothly, why do their wages not increase with profits?

Both Cartman and Pioneer Co-op CEO Larry Kozun assured that they care about their employees and that if anyone has concerns, to call them so they can work to find a solution.

"Our employees are our greatest asset," said Cartman. "It really bothers me that they are not appreciated as much as they should be."

Uli stated that the board's first responsibility is to members. When they have great profits, as in 2023, that money goes into the $14.6 million that members saw going back to them.

When asked if an employee's wage increase would affect that return, Cartman stated that it is connected. 

"It's an expense," said Cartman.  "Anytime you have an expense, you have less return."

The door remains open to anyone with concerns to reach out to Pioneer Co-op with both Cartman and Kozun declaring this issue important to them at the AGM.