John Eggleston was recognized and awarded as a Champion in advancing farmer-owned cooperatives into value-added enterprises; visionary leadership; tireless and tenacious; integrity and commitment to cooperative principles.
The Missouri Institute of Cooperatives’ Mission is: To ensure a permanent, prestigious recognition of cooperative leaders for future generations.
John Eggleston is a pioneer and champion of new generation cooperatives. John was instrumental in forming Missouri’s first farmer-owned ethanol cooperative. Along the way he educated an entire state – farmers, bankers and legislators – about a new model of cooperative ownership and helped lay the policy foundation for other farmer-owned enterprises in ethanol and bio-diesel. He helped secure passage of Missouri’s ethanol producer incentive fund that has been used to assist the start-up of all ethanol plants in the state.
Establishing the cooperative to own the Macon ethanol plant was a long, uphill battle. John and a fellow board member made more than 80 trips, at their own expense, to hold meetings and share ideas about what such a cooperative venture could mean. Only “word of mouth” advertising was allowed, with meetings drawing from 2 to 30 interested parties. As John discussed the idea and possibilities, start up money grew – first he sold the dream, then the shares in the plant that was “to be”.
Building a cooperatively – owned enterprise came naturally to John. He was elected to the Tri-County Electric Cooperative Board in 1976 and served on the board until 2011. John represented Tri-County at state and national levels. He served on the AMEC Board and also the Northeast Missouri Electric Power Board. He always gave extraordinary effort on behalf of cooperatives.
This experience enhanced his leadership qualities and connected him to key people who later played an important role in supporting his vision for Northeast Missouri. During the drive to raise investment to build the ethanol plant in Macon, a number of local rural electric cooperatives made voluntary loans of $10,000 each to help the cooperative effort launch. At one point, when an additional $25,000 was needed to secure plans for building the plant, another Missouri cooperative stepped in with an interest-free loan of that amount. Ultimately John not only succeeded in starting the Macon ethanol plant but also helped the ethanol plant in Laddonia become a reality. Today, the Macon and Laddonia ethanol plants provide a market for 35 million bushels of corn in Northeast Missouri.
Because of John’s involvement and knowledge of electric cooperatives, both the Macon and Laddonia ethanol plants have HSRG turbines to produce electricity for the grid while they produce steam for the ethanol refineries. It is very cost effective and reduces emissions – and reflects John’s pragmatic approach and skill in fostering partnerships.
From 2006 to 2012, John Eggleston served on the Missouri Institute of Cooperatives Board, ensuring involvement and participation of the new generation cooperative perspective in the Institute’s activities.