by Alex Gyori
We Are Gaining Momentum
Since April of 2014, the journey back to the Co-op’s accustomed fiscal strength has been positive and encouraging, yet we are not yet where we would like to be. Sales are growing, as can be seen in the accompanying graph, and a substantial upsurge in the rate of new shareholder sign-ups this past year has boosted our steady improvement. In the last nine months, 315 people joined the Co-op, which is about 6% better than the pattern we have seen over the past few years.
We welcome all of our new cooperators, and thank everyone for your continued support!
Note: The 3rd quarter started December 29 and ended on March 29.
I would like to comment briefly on the Brattleboro Reformer headline that appeared on April 3rd, proclaiming “Bank Sues Co-op” and the accompanying story that reported BFC did not pay its bills for the redevelopment project.
First, the Reformer got the headline wrong, as it was not a bank, specifically our local Merchants Bank, that filed the lawsuit. Rather, it was Merchants Bonding Company, an insurance business with a similar name.
Before the redevelopment project started in 2010, the general contractor, Baybutt Construction, Inc., met a requirement to purchase insurance, called a bond, to ensure completion of the project in the event of the contractor’s default. As it turned out, the general contractor was unable to see the project to the end. In order to continue the work, it became necessary to call the bond. The bond company took over the role of general contractor, and the work was eventually completed.
Wrapping up payment for the project was complicated, and the bond company, unsatisfied with the Co-op’s resolution of final payment, has brought suit against the Co-op, alleging that the Co-op has not fully paid for the work. Co-op management believes that the lawsuit is without merit, as it is our view that BFC met its obligations to the general contractor and all those we worked with to build our new store. Legal counsel has been retained, which unfortunately will increase our cost of doing business until the matter is resolved.
I invite shareholders to welcome Jeff Houle to his new position as Grocery manager, succeeding our long-time colleague Ian Weber. Jeff has been ably overseeing the Co-op’s beer and wine department since the fall of 2011. We are confident that he will do a great job for the Co-op in his new role.
Facilities Assistant Manager
Ian Aucoin has been promoted to the position of Facilities assistant manager, whose duties include custodial, security, and physical plant maintenance. Ian reports directly to our recently appointed store manager, Whitney Field. Ian joined BFC staff at the time of the opening of the new facility, serving customers in the Co-op’s full-service seafood department. He later moved to grocery, then last year to custodial. He is pursuing technical studies for refrigeration and related areas, which suits his new duties very well. Welcome, Ian, and congratulations!