Co-operative businesses operate in all industries and can be big business. Given the interest generated by 4 co-ops you probably didn’t know were co-ops, we’re expanding the list.

Here’s three internationally recognized co-operatives you probably didn’t know were co-ops:


Recognized around the world, and one of the world’s four largest auditors (alongside Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Ernst & Young), KPMG is a global company that employs over 189,000 people. The international firm is co-operatively-owned by each of the independent national firms, operating like a professional services network. This structure allows each independent firm to provide services to clients, while maintaining limited liability.

KPMG wasn’t always a co-operative. KPMG company roots go back to the early 1800s and a group of auditors in the United Kingdom. The KPMG brand itself emerged from a 1987 merger of Peat Marwick International with Klynveld Main Goerdeler. And it wasn’t until 2003 that KPMG changed its legal structure from a Swiss Verein (voluntary association) to a co-operative.

Best Western

Like the Home Hardware model, Best Western International Inc. is a marketing co-operative that provides a franchisee-like service to 4195 independently-owned hotels and resorts worldwide. Founded in 1946 and headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona, Best Western has branded itself as “the world’s largest hotel family” reflecting its ownership model. The co-operative provides marketing services for its member locations and maintains consistency among hotels for signage, reservation, quality of service and standards. This allows guests to access similar services regardless of their destination.

Ocean Spray

Based in Massachusetts, Ocean Spray is an agricultural marketing co-operative, owned by over 700 members that produce cranberries and grapefruits. The co-operative acquires products from their members and produces value-added, output including juices, snacks, and sauce. The co-operative employs over 2000 people, has won multiple awards, and has experienced significant growth. In 2006, Ocean Spray entered into a 25-year agreement with PepsiCo that saw their products added to Pepsi fountain drinks.

If you’re contemplating starting a business, consider a co-op. And if you’re considering a co-op, start by chatting with us.