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North State Hulling Coop., Inc. Annual Membership Meeting

Wednesday August 1, 2012

Masonic Family Center, Chico, CA


The Meeting was called to order by President Greg Wheeler at 6:52 p.m.  The President welcomed all the members and invited guests. The President asked that the minutes from the 2011 Annual Meeting be approved. There was a motion and a second and the minutes were unanimously approved.  

The President introduced the Board members from the 2011/2012 term.  Those in attendance were: Steve Prentice, Greg Overton, Rick Cinquini, Mike DeRee, and Stacy Gore.  Mike Sohnrey was not present. The President said the Board has been busy in “Strategic Planning” sessions.  He believes that this is the first time an undertaking like this has been taken on by the Association.   The goal of the strategic planning is to better define policies and procedures.  This will help with day-to-day issues as well as with future planning. One of their first accomplishments was to craft and publish a “Mission Statement” defining the purpose of North State Hulling.  Also, the Board wanted to insure good communication between the membership, itself, and staff in developing future plans.  The Board had initiated a recent member survey, which indicated an overall general satisfaction with the Board, staff and operation. The President stated that the Board has made good progress and has more to continue. The President asked if there was any old business; there was none offered from the membership.

The President then called upon the General Manager, Rick Barnett, for his report.  Rick then welcomed the membership to the 45th Annual Business Meeting of North State Hulling.  He introduced the staff in attendance.  He also introduced the representatives of the various processors present.  They were:  Dennis Meinberg from Blue Diamond Growers, Steve McDonald from North Valley Nut, David Toney of Duche Nut, Craig Billsborough from Farmers International, and Rich Smith of River West Processing.  The membership then welcomed our newest members – Scott and Kathryn Wright.

The Manager reviewed the 2011 crop.  We had predicted about 14 million meat pounds but were pleasantly surprised to take in 16.3 million pounds for our 3rd largest crop ever.  This crop did have its problems, though.  It was a very late arriving crop with the huller not starting until the end of August.  The late arrival of almonds was due to the cool weather that we experienced for the whole summer and spring.  There was also very little north wind.  Green or wet nuts were definitely an impediment to huller operations yet we still averaged 10,000 meat pounds an hour.  The dryer did have to be put into use and handled 126 lots.    

Hull sales were a big factor in this year’s financial success.  Prices started off $35 over 2010 hulls at $105/ton.  As the year has progressed, market prices have been rising to a point that our last sale was $170/ton.  This gives us an average price of $125/ton.  North State took in over $2,000,000 in revenue from hulls and the resulting net income was $1,357,000.  The membership will receive an 8.47 cent dividend from the net income.  On a cost of 4 cents per meat lb. the dividend will be over twice the cost of hulling and shelling.  The Board has directed a 50/50 split on the net income between a cash patronage dividend and the Revolving Reserve Fund contribution.  The cash patronage dividend payment will be made at the normally scheduled time in December 2012.  The Manager said that if any member would like to review the current financial statements, they are welcome to come by the office to review. 

This year’s crop is expected to be above average.  Nonpareils seem to be a little down while pollinators are strong.  Hull prices continue to be strong, if not climbing.  There is a concern about the health of the California dairy industry.  Dairies have to make a profit to survive.  Conditions in the state are not favorable for them and many could be forced to move out of the state.  This is something we have to be aware of in regard to the strength of the hull market.  Shipping almonds hulls out of state would be very expensive and the hull pricing would suffer.

A current project being undertaken in the huller is the replacement of an old Kamper 4 deck classifier with a newer LMC 2 deck classifier on the in-shell line.  The project is wrapping up with electrical work at this time.  A 2006 CAT skip-loader tractor was recently purchased for the stockpile yard.

As everyone is aware, operational costs have been rising in recent years and North State feels the pinch as well.  We try to keep the cost of our services as low as possible to the membership.  Due to increased labor, fuel costs, and the purchase of the newer trucks to our fleet, we have had to raise trucking charges about 5 – 8%.  The dollies that are loaned out to a few growers will now be on a $25/day rate.  (This is due to the cost of repair on these old units as well as better tires, insurance, and other items that make them legally compliant for the street.)  We have added a new employee, Travis Vanella.  He has run the cleaner for the last two seasons and will take over the day huller duties this season.  Dean Slocum, ran the huller for 26 seasons, and has now retired.   

The Manager concluded by asking members who have acquired any new tractor or trailer equipment to bring it by the plant so that we can get the tare weights entered into our computer system before harvest. Manager Barnett closed by wishing all the members a good harvest season.

At this time Rick turned the meeting back to President Wheeler.  The President wanted to make clear to the members that the Board has tried to keep costs down and make each service stand on its own.  Huller/sheller prices have remained at $.04/mt. pd. for years.  This is because all members bear this same expense, while there are costs for trucking, drying, etc. that are born by only certain members.  This way the maximum dividend comes to all without subsidizing any one service.

At the end of every year there are vacancies on the Board that come up for election.  This year the terms of Greg Wheeler and Mike Sohnrey were completed.  A Nominating Committee of Greg Wheeler and Stacy Gore have come up with 3 candidates for election.  The nominees are: John Erickson, George Nicolaus, and Mike Sohnrey. Director Gore asked for other nominations from the floor. There were none offered.  Stacey added that if anyone would like to reconsider, he could be reached if they had a change of heart.  He said that the nominees offered were all former Board members and had to be urged to run again.  At this time he thanked Greg Wheeler for his many hours of dedication and hard work in leading the Board.  The Board presented Director Wheeler with a gift certificate to 5th Street Steak House.  He thanked the Board for their support and also for the certificate.

President Wheeler then asked if there was any further business from the floor.  There was none.  President Wheeler adjourned the meeting at 7:30 p.m. with dinner to follow. 

Respectfully Submitted,

Greg Wilson, Rick Barnett