Financial strength, a broadening base of cooperative clients, and exciting new acquisitions emerged as key themes during Pioneer Utility Resources’ annual meeting on Tuesday. The meeting was hosted by Vice Chair Meera Kohler, President and CEO of Alaska Village Electric Cooperative.
“Pioneer is flying higher than ever,” Pioneer CEO Michael Shepard told attendees of the virtual meeting. “Not only surviving but thriving.”
Shepard and other staff announced a publishing partnership with the New Mexico Rural Cooperative Association, highlighted the benefits members will see from the acquisitions of ARC Media and WordSouth, and praised the creativity and flexibility of staff members at the cooperative and all subsidiaries in responding to COVID-19. Managers also discussed how the move to a new larger headquarters had improved the work environment for employees of Pioneer and Efficiency Services Group.
“It was a year of robust reinvention,” said Leon Espinoza, Pioneer’s vice president of content.
Board members Lisa Johnson, CEO of Seminole Electric Cooperative in Florida; and Robert “Bob” Callison of Clearwater Power (Idaho) were elected to new 3-year terms. Also joining the board in 2020 are John Bartley, CEO of Florida’s Gulf Coast Electric Cooperative; and Libby Calnon of Oregon’s Hood River Electric Cooperative.
Pioneer Board Chairman Marc Farmer outlined Pioneer’s growth, saying that Pioneer, ARC Media, and WordSouth now work with 160 utilities in 34 states. “Pioneer is no longer just a magazine serving the Northwest—we’ve now expanded and grown into one of the largest multi-state (utility) communications companies in the United States,” Farmer said. “These acquisitions have been done by design to allow us to keep costs down and remain current and relevant in the industry.”
VP of Finance and Administration Matthew Pierce said Pioneer’s growth has been strategic. “We are not growing just for growth’s sake. The growth isn’t primarily about bigger revenues. It’s not even about increased member capital or even, ultimately, a higher patronage returned to you, our members,” he said. “Fundamentally, the growth is about having more of us, more professionals, more communications resources, more tools, more solutions that are available to you, our consumer-owned, community-serving members and the associations and the G&T cooperatives that support you.”
Independent Auditor Scott Daniels of Aldrich Advisors + CPAs and others gave Pioneer’s financial statements as of December 31, 2019 a clean bill of health, noting low debt, growing revenue, and a firm foundation. “The company continues to improve in the operational side and maintain a strong financial position,” Daniels said.