By Alex Gyori, General Manager
Not too long ago a good friend of mine, a long time Co-op shareholder, asked if we would be bringing in the new general manager six months or so before I leave my job here at the Co-op. That was mildly flattering to hear, his perception being how broad the responsibilities are for this position. My immediate reply was that the next person will need to come with well-developed skills and experience, requiring a much shorter break-in time. Still it was a perceptive question.
Over the years, whenever a new person has joined the Co-op as an employee at any position, one of my early admonitions is that, although the basic skill sets are quickly learned, it takes a minimum of four seasons to develop an effective understanding of the demands of the job. The experience I had as a neophyte coordinator is my best example. I clearly recall my first days as an employee, despite the almost thirty-three years that have elapsed since then. The first day was intense. Inventory! Eight straight hours counting and writing and asking a million questions, the throbbing headache by the end of the day. Yet I came back for round two the next day, the real beginning of my on-the-job training. I rode in the passenger seat of the Emerson’s van with Carl Hirth to pick up the four pallets of goods at C&S. We arrived back at the Co-op a couple of hours later, and after that, I can only barely visualize the next 365 days. Then one day, and I distinctly remember the moment, I walked into the Co-op and a light seemed to turn on. “Oh, I get it now,” I thought to myself. It is not that all of a sudden I totally understood the job, but a haze seemed to lift, and all the pieces seemed to come together.
Anyone coming into the position of general manager today will bring relevant experience and appropriate skills, but it will still take time to develop the awareness and understanding germane to today’s food co-op. The task now is to find the right person and welcome him or her aboard.
In last month’s Food For Thought I wrote about the retirement of our friend and colleague, Dick Ernst, who is leaving us as of March 6. Again, we wish him well in his next adventures.
Succeeding Dick as store manager, Whitney Field has returned to BFC! Whitney had been here in various capacities for eighteen years, until leaving two years ago to take up the duties of store manager at the new Monadnock Food Co-op in Keene, NH. Having just finished helping us move to the new facility in 2012, she took her very pertinent experience to the folks at Monadnock. It is great to have her back in this new capacity—she will hit the ground running. Please welcome Whitney when you see her around the store!
The very same day that Whitney showed up to begin her orientation into her new position, Ian Weber, our thirty-year veteran grocery manager announced that he was moving away! It is not that we were totally shocked, because he had told us over a year ago that he had bought a house in Maine, and was planning to move there as soon as his house here sold. A year later, the house finally has a buyer. Ian will be with us until March 13.
There are so many things I could write about his contribution to the success of our Co-op. I think the highest compliment is that he has always been a strong, amazingly skillful manager, who has been such an integral part of the evolution of our Co-op since he joined us in 1984. A fact you may not be aware of is that he is known nationwide as one of if not “The Best” grocery manager in the food co-op movement. We have been so lucky to have him on our team.
I exhort everyone who knows Ian to catch him while he is still with us to express your appreciation for what he has done for BFC. He will be missed!