Historical Roots of Marathon

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Saturday evening, August 7, 1926, a group of men met in the Farmers Savings Bank at Albert City to adopt the Articles of Incorporation and By-Laws for the purpose of organizing the Farmers Union Oil Company.  The first directors included President, C. W. Jafvert; Vice President, John F. Lange; Secretary-Treasurer, Carl W. Blomgren; with J. P. Eckman, Fred Kischer, Otto Mohr and Ed Meinking making up the rest of the board.  As the first board members also did most of the work, they paid Carl Blomgren $4.00 a day for time working at the gas bulk station and all the other labor that he hired received $3.00 a day.

At the first Annual meeting on January 18, 1927, many Marathon and Albert City members had been included in the purchase of the company’s gas.  New directors were elected and it was decided that all of the expenses and profits made by the company in the past five months, were to go in on the next year’s records.  Shares of stock in the company were sold for $6.00 a share.

Rude Buse was contacted to handle sales and deliver gas for the company at a commission of $0.02 a gallon on gas and kerosene.  After interviewing several different gas companies, it was decided to handle White Eagle Gas exclusively.  In May 1928, it was decided to switch to Champlin Gas and in August 1928, a new contract was signed with Mid-Continent Petroleum Corporation (D-X) to supply them with gas, kerosene, and oils.  Frank Hudson of Marathon agreed to sell their gas and a pump was installed in his station.

At the annual meeting in January 1929, it was decided that the company was to pay a .04-1/2% dividend on the amount of purchases by the shareholders for 1928. A motion was made, voted upon, and passed that the name of the company be changed to Farmers Cooperative Oil Company.

A 5% dividend was paid by the company on purchases for 1929 and each of the tankwagon drivers and the secretary were given a box of 50 White Owl cigars for Christmas.

In 1930, a station site at Rembrandt was selected and a station was built.  A 12,000 gallon bulk tank was installed at Marathon and a 15,000 gallon bulk tank was installed at Albert City.  John Lange and Erick Soderquist, (two board members) were paid $3.00 a day for putting up these bulk tanks.
A new service station was built in Albert City in 1931 and a new tank truck was bought to service the territory around Linn Grove.

Things were hard in 1932 and the company suffered a loss in volume.  A 5% dividend was handed out on goods actually paid for during the year at the annual meeting which was attended by about 95 stockholders.

In 1933, C. W. Jafvert was elected as the manager, a deal was approved for a Newell station, and it was decided to pay farmers $0.45 a bushel on corn delivered to apply on old accounts.  At the annual meeting, the board issued an additional share of stock to each shareholder on record and an 8% dividend was paid.  1933 will be remembered because of the parade which was held at Albert City.  Five gallons of gas was given to all that stayed in the parade from start to finish.

The auditors report for 1934 showed the company’s sales at $64,965.27 and a patronage dividend of 8%was paid on gas, kerosene, and oil and 6% distillates.  It was decided to put in a tankwagon in Laurens and also build a new station there.

The annual meeting of 1935 was attended by about 200 stockholders with total sales for the year of $86,282.82. It was reported that station in Sioux Rapids was handling their products and additional storage tanks in Albert City were installed for storing and handling fuel oil for oil burners which were “becoming more popular every year.”

On their tenth anniversary in 1936, it was reported that the company had come through the depression without ever failing to pay interest on their stock or a patronage dividend.  A Super service station at Rembrandt had been completed during the year.

In 1937, a Super Service Station was also completed in Albert City with the addition of a new building for greasing and washing cars, and the company began to handle Firestone tires and tubes at all their stations.

In 1939, the service station in Marathon was rebuilt and made larger.  Three new truck tanks were purchased for the delivery of gas in the Albert City, Laurens and Webb areas.

Highway 10 was changed in 1940, which meant that we had to change the location of the Laurens station.  So a Super Service Station at Laurens, the largest in the northwest area of the State, was completed in 1941.  However, because of the war emergency, restrictions were made on the sale of tires and tubes and a curtailment was put on all unnecessary driving.

In 1943, the company was having trouble obtaining enough products for their 1040 shareholders from Mid-Continent Petroleum Company and in 1944, when they couldn’t get any additional gas from Mid-Continent Oil, they signed a contract with Consumers Cooperative Association of North Kansas City, Missouri, and divided their business 50-50 between the two, the customers to have their choice of which one they liked best.  Because of rationing, the tire situation was continually growing worse and at the annual meeting, no lunch was served.  Instead, everyone was given 25 cents.

Mr. H. C. Jones was hired as the new manager in 1945 after the death of C. W. Jafvert.  It was decided to move the main office fro Albert City to Marathon.
Since Mid-Continent Oil could not supply them with all the fuel they needed for the winter in 1947, it was voted to stay with Consumers Cooperative Association.  The board adopted a new resolution the same year on the net earnings of the company, some to be paid as a dividend, some to be deferred, and the balance to be placed in a reserve account.  A new savings of $22,868.61 was reported for 1949.

At the annual meeting in 1953, a new savings of $16,952.38 was reported to about 140 people present and gifts of Coop corn, beans and preserves were given to all the customers at the meeting.  Hams were given to all employees for Christmas.

In 1954, the board voted that all the stations were to sell at a uniform price set by the office.  The board also decided to give a 3% discount for cash on date of delivery to reduce some of the credit being given.

After ten years as manager, H. C. Jones handed in his resignation on March 2, 1955, and in September, Mr. Ray Nation was hired as the new manager.

A gas war forced the board to lower their prices at the Marathon service station in 1955.  Also that year, the board put in new propane gas installations and established a credit policy of sending out monthly statements.

In 1956, a 7000 gallon aluminum transport tank was purchased and they bought a bottle gas business in Albert City.

At the annual meeting in 1957, it was decided to change the ending date of the fiscal year from December 31 to September 30, and also to have nine directors on the board instead of seven.

In 1958, the board purchased the Earl Bennett building in Marathon for their new office.  It was decided to pay a mileage fee of $0.07 per mile to the directors and associate board members and they signed an agreement with Storm Lake Production Credit Association to advance the farmer members money for their purchases from Farmers Coop Oil Company.  At the annual meeting, with about 300 people present, it was reported that sales for the year had, for the first time, surpassed the half million mark.

It was decided to purchase equipment to sell and handle anhydrous ammonia in 1959 and in 1960, a dry fertilizer bulk and blending plant was built at Marathon.

In February 1961, the board hired Tom Fuller as the new manager and he resigned in September.  Mr. Walker Smith was then hired as manager on October 3, 1961.

The company, in 1962, purchased the three propane truck tanks that had been hauling for them and hired the men who had owned them, as employees.

In 1963, the board decided to start handling Coop household appliances.  They bought two-way radio equipment, bought a bottle gas business at Laurens and also rebuilt the propane plant at Marathon.

Liquid fertilizer equipment was purchased from the Farmers Coop Elevator Company in 1964.  During the year, new ammonia plants were built at Laurens, Albert City and Varina and a gas bulk plant was built at Varina.  The board purchased a service station in Sioux Rapids and in 1965, the company purchased the Webb-Cornell bottle gas business.
On April 1, 1966, the Farmers Cooperative Oil Company of Albert City unified with Farmers Cooperative Company of Marathon to form Farmers Cooperative Association, Marathon, Iowa.  Later in 1966, the board purchased the Rembrandt Feed and Produce.  In 1968, they purchased the Webb Feed Mill and a Webb grain storage building.

Mr. Walker smith resigned in May 1969 and in July 1969, Mr. Philip Dukes was hired as the new manager.

In 1970, the board purchased an electronic accounting machine for the company business and signed a credit card agreement, making the use of Master Charge cards available to their customers.

In 1972, after a special meeting with the stockholders of the company, it was decided to construct a new 180,000 bushel elevator and feed mill.

In 1974, the company built an addition to their fertilizer plant at Marathon.  In 1975, they bought the D-X station in Marathon, repaired it and put in a new car wash.  they also purchased a new holding bin and leg for the Webb elevator.

In 1976, a new accounting system, Far-Mar-Co, will be put into use, two 175,000 bushel annexes and an 8000 bushel leg will be built, a new grain dryer has been purchased and a second grain storage tank will be installed in Webb.