Dear Co-op Members,
A vision is a wonderful thing, but it’s not enough. You have to believe in that vision and commit to it. Then, as Thoreau said, go confidently in the direction of your dreams.
Our Co-op took confident steps forward earlier this year. We invested in the people, technology, and ideas we believed in. And now, midway through the year, we’re already seeing the results.
Sales are improving throughout the organization. As I wrote late last year, all of us, as a team, reassessed our approach as we planned the year ahead. Then we took a renewed approach to expenses and created new, realistic sales expectations for 2017. We’re still not quite where we’d like to be, but the strategy is working. We’re a leaner, fitter cooperative, which puts us in a great position for the second half of the year.
We are beginning to see an uptick in shoppers, which is vital to our business. That trend is steadily moving upward.
We invested in new technology, ECRS, to bring our systems up to date. ECRS streamlines our operation from inventory to checkout. This not only makes our Co-op more efficient and competitive, it also frees up staff to take care of people instead of antiquated systems.
We launched an all-new approach to our prepared foods program. The Co-op Kitchen is producing at a steady rate, with the staffing structure in place to support it.
Our at-will employment language is going away completely. We’ve replaced it with language more in line with our values and principles. The best part? A committee of members, board members, and staff worked together to make it happen.
Our Lebanon store, which turns 20 this fall, has a new, highly experienced store manager. We also just signed a new lease for the store, which means it can remain at home in the Centerra Marketplace for the next 35 years.
78 percent of our staff is full-time, with full-time benefits. This is the opposite of the industry, both locally and nationally.
In the spring, voters approved a bylaws amendment that allowed our Co-op to issue better B shares. These shares not only help our Co-op raise capital, they also have a fixed maturity date. After this date, members can redeem their shares for cash.
We redesigned our annual meeting, launched a series of member forums, and brought members, board members, and staff together in a variety of new and innovative ways. This exchange of people and ideas has fostered teamwork, led to different ways of doing things, and produced creative solutions to problems.
We’ve restructured responsibilities and aligned our talent with the challenges we face. This puts people in a better position to do what they do best.
My thanks to all of you for working together for a stronger cooperative and stronger communities. Have questions, or thoughts and ideas you’d like to share? I’m always interested. Reach out to me anytime. My door is always open to you.