TCC is the type of business called a cooperative.  Cooperatives are found in cities and towns across the U.S., but they are especially common in small towns.  Being a cooperative means several things.  For one thing, it means we have no single owner, we do not keep our profits to ourselves, and our customers have a vested interest in the business.

Instead of one owner, every customer is an owner.  Ownership is established through a membership and subscription to the cooperative’s service(s).  The membership collects the information needed to officially recognize a person, married couple, or organization as the “account holder” and gives them (and only them) the right to subscribe to, change or cancel services, vote on cooperative business at the annual meeting, receive and review company statements, vote for Board members to represent them in steering the direction of the cooperative, and to receive returns on the money they’ve spent when the cooperative’s revenues exceed their costs (plus a prudent reserve).  These returns are called Capital Credits.

The rights and responsibilities of a member are outlined in the cooperative’s Bylaws and are taken very seriously as they are legally binding.  Certain changes cannot be made without approval of the Board and/or approval of the membership.  It is really a unique type of business that truly involves the customers in both the process and the success of the cooperative.

Cooperatives have been around for centuries.  They typically start when a need for a product or service arises in an area with no current supplier.  A group of interested persons – typically those who need the products/services – band their resources together to start a business to supply the product(s) or service(s) they need.  By each putting in a share of the resources needed, they become an owner in the business.  They will help make the initial rules, steer the company direction, and share in the cooperative’s financial success.  Examples include feed & seed supply stores, gas/fuel suppliers, credit unions, utilities, and grocers/food providers.  Over the years, every new customer becomes a member and part-owner of the cooperative.  Typically, there is an annual membership meeting where the business of the cooperative is shared with the members.  There is typically a board of directors to represent the will of the membership in the decisions of the cooperative.  Board members are elected by the members (usually at the annual meeting) and must be a member to be elected.  Cooperatives are businesses for members and by members.  Without members, a cooperative does not exist.

The month of October is officially recognized as Cooperative Month in the United States.  Cooperatives from around the country use that time to promote their type of business and why it’s an essential part of our national fabric.  Without cooperatives, many of our small towns would never have the goods and services they needed to thrive, or even survive.

TCC has been an important cooperative and partner in our local communities for many years.  And we are only in existence because of those who became members and subscribed to our services.