Rural Missouri - January 2018 - 5

RM

| PERSPECTIVES

H A RT TO H E A RT

The cooperative difference
by Barry Hart | bhart@amec.coop

E

very year, Touchstone Energy surveys electric cooperative members from across the
country to see how they relate to what we
call "the cooperative difference." From this
research electric cooperatives gain valuable insight
into their member-owners' unique points of view.
Touchstone Energy was organized in 1998 to
leverage the advantages created by belonging to
America's largest utility network, which includes
30.5 million member-owners served by 700 local
co-ops over 75 percent of the U.S. land mass.
Its new executive director, Lynn Moore, has done
a great job of continuing Touchstone Energy's mission of empowering members using four core values: integrity, accountability, innovation and community. She's visited Missouri to see firsthand how
electric cooperatives here achieve great things for
their communities.
Lynn's greatest tool in helping the Touchstone
Energy cooperatives is the national survey. The
results of the latest survey recently were released.
Two things about this survey greatly impress me.
First is the fact that your electric cooperative cares
about you because you are the owner of the cooperative and its employees want to improve your experience as a member-owner.
The second is how much members love the electric cooperative they own. In fact, in all the years
this survey has been conducted, electric cooperatives have consistently scored above the rest of the
electric utility industry on the American Customer
Satisfaction Index (ACSI).
The ACSI score comes from answers to questions
addressing the utility's ability to provide reliable
service, power restoration after an outage, energy
efficiency programs, support of green programs and

staff courtesy and helpfulness.
It's logical that a member-owned
business devoted to service - not profits - would score better in these areas.
Missouri's
electric
cooperatives
already have in place energy-efficiency
programs that help members deal with
rising energy costs. They are strong
supporters of community programs,
whether it is helping a member rebuild
after a fire through Operation Round Up
or hanging the Christmas decorations
at the county courthouse. Many cooperatives support local and regional economic development efforts to bolster the
rural economy.
The survey showed that our members
appreciate these efforts and want them
to continue.
Along with the good news, the survey also presented some challenges electric cooperatives face. One of the chief concerns we have is
about 56 percent of the survey respondents identify
themselves as a customer rather than a member
and owner.
We know we need to do a better job communicating the advantages of belonging to an electric cooperative. However, changes in the demographics of
the cooperative and new technologies are making
that more difficult.
The survey asked questions about how members
would like to hear from their cooperative. Most say
they still want printed material like Rural Missouri.
But they also want electronic communications,
especially during outages.
Some even suggested new ideas such as notifying them via text message when weather factors
can't explain an increase in their energy consump-

tion. They also want as much information as possible when outages occur so they can make decisions
on what to do until power is restored.
If you were one of the 13,500 member-owners
who agreed to be interviewed for the survey, thank
you. Rest assured we will use the data from this and
future surveys to discover our strengths and opportunities to improve service. As they have in the past,
these responses will serve as our marching orders
in 2018. We will continue to remind you in these
pages about the benefits of being a member and an
owner of your electric cooperative.
May you all have a blessed and prosperous
new year. I look forward to visiting with you in the
months to come.
Hart is executive vice president of the Association
of Missouri Electric Cooperatives.

GUEST COLUMN

Buy Missouri
by Lt. Gov. Mike Parson | info@ruralmissouri.coop

cereal and numerous other consumables, resulting
in annual revenues of $700 million.
It's my goal as lieutenant governor to encourage
he last time you went shopping, you may
have compared prices of similar items before Missourians to buy "local" products such as these,
leading to an increase in collaborative
choosing the one you thought
growth from farm to table.
to be the best value. Or maybe
The Buy Missouri initiayou examined labels to compare infortive was created not only
mation necessary for you to make the
to heighten awareness of
right purchase.
large made-in-Missouri
But did you take a moment to try
businesses, but also
to find out where those products were
to promote momactually made? Across Missouri, there
and-pop businesses
are thousands of items we use every
such as Grove Salsa
day produced within our state. Showin Springfield, which
casing these products and educating
started in 2015 at a
the consumer to "buy local" are two
farmers market and now
of the reasons my office has launched
distributes its products to 18
the Buy Missouri initiative.
During my travels across Mis- Lt. Gov. Mike Parson grocery stores across the state.
Forty employees at The Roasterie in
souri as a legislator and now lieutenant governor, I've visited countless manufacturers Kansas City locally grind air-roasted coffee in their
and businesses whose products line the shelves of facility and sell it throughout the state.
No matter how large or small, all businesses
stores throughout the state.
For example, Diamond Pet Foods, based in the within our state should be given the opportunity to
central Missouri town of Meta, generates $1 billion prosper through this increased awareness.
To provide such an opportunity, Buy Missouri
of revenue yearly and has more than 800 employees
on its payroll. The employees at the Gilster-Mary consists of three phases. The first was a 10-city
Lee food production plant in Perryville make more kickoff tour I led across the state in late October
than 500 products including 80 kinds of breakfast 2017. Focusing on retail food products, press

T

conferences were held at each stop on the tour
introducing the Buy Missouri initiative and its
logo to the public. Phase Two will concentrate on
Missouri's business segment, while Phase Three
will consist of regional showcases across the state,
giving local businesses the opportunity to
promote their products efficiently and
economically when compared to other
means of exposure such as trade
shows.
To maximize the effectiveness
of the Buy Missouri initiative, my
office has partnered with the Missouri Departments of Economic
Development and Agriculture, Associated Industries of Missouri, Missouri Farm Bureau, Missouri Chamber of Commerce and the Small Business
Association.
If you know of a made-in-Missouri business
that would benefit from Buy Missouri, contact my
office at 573-751-4727 or email ltgovinfo@ltgov.
mo.gov.
We are developing a categorized business database that will be accessible at a Buy Missouri website, thus benefiting our state's producers and consumers who will be able to quickly find the information they need to Buy Missouri.

JANUARY 2018 | RURALMISSOURI.COOP

5


http://www.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - January 2018

Contents
Rural Missouri - January 2018 - Intro
Rural Missouri - January 2018 - Cover1
Rural Missouri - January 2018 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - January 2018 - Contents
Rural Missouri - January 2018 - 4
Rural Missouri - January 2018 - 5
Rural Missouri - January 2018 - 6
Rural Missouri - January 2018 - 7
Rural Missouri - January 2018 - 8
Rural Missouri - January 2018 - 9
Rural Missouri - January 2018 - 10
Rural Missouri - January 2018 - 11
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Rural Missouri - January 2018 - Cover3
Rural Missouri - January 2018 - Cover4
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