|Board of Directors: Annual Meeting ReCap|
by Anna Edson
On November 8th, about 100 shareholders came together at Scott Farm. We all mingled before the meeting, some socializing, some meeting the board candidates, and others sharing feedback and questions about our Co-op. I was very happy and encouraged to see many of myco-workers there; the most I have ever seen at an annual meeting.
After the welcome speech and introductions of our board members and the facilitator, we engaged in what I believe to be one of the most fun, interactive, and productive activities at an Annual Meeting, a World Cafe. We as a group (with each table hosted by a board member, board candidate, or volunteers) were asked questions based on our BFC Ends policies. For one hour, each table mulled over three specific questions. Each host tried to keep the momentum going by facilitating a brainstorm from everyone.
With each question, we changed tables so everyone could engage with different people.
We now have a list of questions and ideas that is quite detailed and will no doubt take some work to go through. Please go to our web site to look at the notes from the meeting, on the Board of Directors page.
After collecting the notes from each table we all enjoyed a nice brunch made by our Co-op’s own deli. During that time many more questions were asked.
Here are some examples of a few I heard:
These are all great questions and the fact is that many of them are already occurring. We have two education coordinators visiting schools weekly. Our Co-op sponsors many local events, donates food across the county, and is always seeking to deepen its partnerships with local organizations. The Pennywise Pantry allows shoppers of the Co-op to take a tour on how to affordably and effectively shop each department at the Co-op.
At 12:30pm, Beth Neher, our board president, brought the business part of the meeting to order. Over the past year our Co-op has had many changes: Sabine taking over Alex’s General Manager position, the Co-ops 40th anniversary, and board transitions. She also talked about the board’s role in the Co-op including monitoring our Ends policies, cooperative values, and principles.
She reminded us all that in the coming year the board will review the by-laws, their code of conduct policy, execute community outreach, maintain lines of communication with our shareholders, recruit new board members, and support Sabine. And of course she thanked the shareholders and her fellow board members for contributing to our Co-op in many ways.
Sabine’s General Manager report was next. She thanked the shareholders and staff for their contributions and sacrifices, which have been the foundation to the success of our Co-op over the last 40 years. She talked about the competition and how some larger chain stores are looking to offer more natural, organic and local products.
Sabine reported that she has started monthly Sunday conversations in the community room with shareholders on various topics such as competition and discounts. She touched base on a new Co-op orientation program for staff. And lastly she encouraged feedback, whether it was received in person, phone, e-mail, or in an aisle.
Bob Crego was next on the agenda with the Treasurer’s Report. We exceeded the sales increase targeted by management by one percent, making the increase 5.1% and the sales in dollars $19,570.94. The increase for 2016 is forecast at 3.1% sales growth.
Although we had the freezer meltdown in September, our debt is slowly looking better. Over the next two years we will pay off a good portion of our equipment loans, leading to a better cash position at the start of FY 2018.
Towards the end of the meeting, shareholders asked questions of the board and GM. Questions were raised about parking attendants during the holidays, accessibility of our Co-op grounds to the community, and how staff can communicate with the board, to name a few. It was a pleasure to hear from shareholders how appreciative they were of Sabine's work.
Finally, a question was asked of the shareholders: “This is our Co-op. What will I as an individual do to help it thrive?” These meeting notes will be listed on our website.
Thank you to all that attended, and thank you for the sense of Co-op community. As always, I look forward to seeing our Co-op grow.