The Year Ahead: Part II

A Letter from the Co-op General Manager

To Our Community,  

Last Thursday I highlighted some of the initiatives we have planned for our Business Unit Operations in 2021. Today I would like to direct our focus to Cooperative Engagement, Public and Governmental Affairs, Finance, and Administration.

This process is intended to provide our members and shoppers with clear and transparent information so you can understand more about the opportunities and challenges we face in 2021.

Cooperative Engagement

Loyalty. Our Member Services teams began the process of transitioning to a new database in early 2020. COVID slowed that effort significantly. In 2021 we expect to migrate our membership database to this new software, finalize our engagement tracking programs, and begin exploring and building marketing functions in the system. We will also begin building connections with other key systems at the Co-op to ensure customer data from all areas of the cooperative can be centralized.

Promotional Strategies. The pandemic caused our Marketing teams to shift focus to customer updates, safety, and supply chain issues. In 2021, Marketing expects some continuation of these changes but also a return to key promotional strategies. We will continue to focus on our differentiators, promoting what sets us apart from our competitors. 

Public and Governmental Affairs

Commitment. Few food cooperatives in the United States are in a position to commit to public and government work as ours is. PCC Natural Markets in Seattle is a notable exception. This is the reality of financing local and national advocacy in a low-margin business like grocery selling. This commitment reflects our cooperative’s desire to use our influence and reputation to further the cause of important issues.

Programming. In 2021, our efforts will focus on: strengthening alliances; supporting housing, transportation, and local food production; and advocating for cooperative businesses at the regional and national level. The goal of each alliance, advocacy partnership, and financial commitment is to make a difference in our world and to grow the reputation and/or impact of our cooperative. 

Finance

New systems. For 2021, our Finance teams will continue to focus on internal processes and procedures to reinforce the department’s role as an “internal auditor” for the organization. The goal remains unchanged—sound and timely reporting processes, and clear and documented internal financial controls.

Administration

Facilities/Safety. In 2021, the upgrades to our physical locations will most notably take place in Lebanon. The building’s systems and refrigeration will be our principal focus. Planning is underway for a new efficient lighting system as well as implementing systems to balance the building so our mechanical systems work together for an enhanced environment. 

IT–Network and Systems. Responding to our employees’ needs, we have launched an intranet for the purpose of providing access to a wide variety of software and functions in a one-stop shopping format.

Human Resources/Employee Experience. Employee learning will be an organizational priority going forward. We will also continue to be guided by the important work of the Employee Experience and the Diversity and Inclusion committees.

Business Continuity. Business continuity should be on everyone’s mind, particularly in light of the pandemic. Our goal is to have a plan completed in the first quarter of 2021 and to begin practicing for various scenarios in the first half of 2021. 

 

Wrap Up

In closing, I would like to introduce an idea that I hope will be helpful to you. I am often asked questions from employees and members on a wide variety of topics—everything from the nuances of Co-op operations to how the U.S. can afford hundreds of billions of dollars in stimulus packages. If you have questions you would like to ask, please free to do so and write me! Reach out to me anytime. Others may also be interested, and I promise to share the questions and answers with everyone. 

As always, thank you to all of our members and shoppers for the ongoing support. Remember to be kind to one another and to yourselves, and we look forward to serving you in our stores and at the curbside.

Onward and upward,

Thanks,

Paul

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Paul Guidone

Paul Guidone

Paul Guidone, CFA, spent the better part of four decades in the investment management business here and abroad. He held positions ranging from analyst through Deputy Chairman and Group CEO, at organizations such as Citigroup (US) and The HSBC Group (London and Hong Kong). He joined the Co-op in 2016 as the CFO and in 2018 became Strategic Advisor to the General Manager. Paul was appointed by the Co-op Board as interim General Manager in March 2020 and General Manager in September 2020. To contact, email PGuidone@coopfoodstore.com.
Paul Guidone

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