Southern States Cooperative, Inc., of Richmond, Va., and Agway Inc., of Syracuse, N.Y., have finalized the former's purchase of Agway's consumer wholesale dealer business. Effective immediately, Southern States assumes all dealer marketing, development, operations, distribution and logistics for this business. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Under the terms of the agreement, Southern States will supply farm, lawn, home and garden, vegetable seed and bird food products for 500-plus Agway consumer dealers in Ohio, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, Massachusetts and Maine.

Per the agreement, the dealers in these sates will continue using the Agway name, as will new independent dealers established by Southern States as it expands the dealer network within this geography.

Agway will continue to manufacture, promote, distribute and sell its Agway and Legends bagged feed products through the dealer channel in the Northeast. Agway will also continue to manufacture its branded products, including Feathered Friend bird food, Agway seed and Seedway vegetable seed and turf seed products, for distribution by Southern States.

"We are very excited about this relationship and very comfortable serving this type dealer base and their product lines," says Carl Cromwell, vice president of the farm and home business unit. "At Southern States, we are excited about the growth opportunities this presents for us and the Agway dealers. We will continue to offer Agway branded products as well as those that Southern States sells today."

"This new relationship between our cooperatives means that Agway dealers will be part of a system with significantly more size and scope," says David Durr, president of Agway's consumer marketing group and president of Agway's Keystone agriculture enterprise. "We are truly excited about the many opportunities that this new relationship creates for our cooperatives as well as for the Agway dealers."

The independent dealer concept is well established within Southern States, as is the member-owned farm supply cooperative's name and logo as well as its training, merchandising and advertising programs. The Agway dealers will have access to and benefit from these programs, along with continued use of the Agway name and logo.

Combined with company-owned stores and managed-member co-ops, Southern States operates through more than 1,250 retail outlets now that the Agway agreement has been finalized.

Southern States has hired about 30 former Agway employees. Most of these are dealer sales and customer service reps. Employees at distribution centers in Westfield, Mass., and Elizabethtown, Pa., may have opportunities for employment with Southern States, also.

Southern States will manage these two distribution centers to continue to serve the Agway dealers.