Mr. Willy Wonka had been considering expanding Wonka Industries for a while now, but he had just one problem, Where? With Charlie now running the original factory he could branch off and build another factory in a different location.
He was sitting in his office contemplating his problem when Charlie burst through the door. Charlie quickly noticed the lines of distress painted on Mr. Wonka’s face. Charlie then asked, “Mr. Wonka, what’s wrong?”
“Charlie my boy, I don’t know where to build our new chocolate factory,” Mr. Wonka boldly replied.
“Well, have you thought about Tennessee,” Charlie asked.
“Why in the world would we build it there? There’s nothing out there besides Nashville and Elvis.”
“Well Mr. Wonka, it would be cheaper to get the land and run the factory than anywhere else.”
“How would it be cheaper, Charlie? It’s so rural out there that surely it would be more expensive to run the factory!”
“Not necessarily Mr. Wonka, it is rural, but the co-ops connect you with opportunity. The Tennessee Electric Cooperative would be the company to provide our business with electricity and internet if we were to choose to build in Tennessee.”
“What more “opportunity” could they offer us that some other company couldn’t?” They’re all the same and it’s just electricity, they can’t be that different.”
“You see that’s where you’re wrong Mr. Wonka, co-ops are very different from other electric utilities! They are owned by the people and controlled by the members through an elected Board of Directors. And it’s not just electricity, many also provide broadband and some offer propane. They help their community stay educated and informed, and they support industrial and economic development within their community.”
“Why in the world would they do all that, Charlie?”
“Because they are concerned and care about their communities and their members. They even keep them informed with real-time notifications through their social media, website, and app!”
“Well if they do all that, do they do anything for the children,” asked Mr. Wonka. “Our main customers are children and we also care about our consumers. I don’t want to support a business that doesn’t support what we believe in!”
“Then you’re in luck,” said Charlie. The Tennessee Electric Cooperative supports education and children in the community. They are very active in the school systems and they connect students with plenty of programs like the Washington Youth Tour Writing Contest, 4-H Electric Camp, and Youth Leadership Summit.”
“But What does this do for the kids, Charlie?”
“It gives the students important information, helps their personal development, fosters leadership skills, and they could even receive scholarships for higher education. The co-op also awards thousands of dollars to teachers for hands-on projects, so even if the students don’t participate in their other programs, they can still help them and their pursuit for education.”
“Charlie, that’s brilliant! But if they care so much about their members and community, how do we know that they would support our business?”
“Well, they are all about promoting the area and recruiting new businesses and industries! They want to deliver opportunities for their communities to grow and thrive and provide a good quality of life for their members. And when our business opens it will offer job opportunities for people in their area.”
“All of that is nice, but will they be able to supply the amount of energy that we need? Will it be reliable and fast? Our business is booming and if something goes wrong and we lose power or if orders come in late because of a slow network we will get days behind and might not be able to recover from that. I don’t want our new chocolate factory to fail before we get our feet off the ground,” stated Wonka.
“If anyone can meet our electric needs it’s them. They have provided their members with safe, reliable, affordable electric services since 1939. Now up to 5 percent of their energy comes from renewable sources such as solar arrays. Plus, their fiber optic network makes high-speed internet services available to all of their eligible members. They currently serve 1 in 3 Tennessee homes and have a 99.96% reliability rate!”
“Wow, you have me sold, but you still haven’t told me why they are cheaper than other companies.”
“Their rates are kept low because there are no stockholders to pay, and the co-op is responsive to members because they vote on co-op leadership.”
“What do you mean they vote?”
“They are an autonomous organization. Do you remember earlier when I told you they are owned by their members and controlled by Board of Directors elected by the members?”
“Yeah, I remember Charlie.”
“Well, they are a democratic organization controlled by the member-elected board that sets policies and makes decisions. So, their services are cheaper because they are run by the same people who use their service and are not-for-profit. That’s also one of the reasons they care so much about their members and community. They want all members to have a brighter future, and that’s why they have so many opportunities for them to grow, improve, and build themselves and their communities.
“Then it’s settled Charlie, our new factory will be built in Tennessee! Why wouldn’t we want to be a part of something greater than ourselves and be able to provide people with greater opportunities!”