Member Engagement Top Theme at Co-op Annual Meeting
For members of the Co-op Food Stores, the upcoming Annual Meeting of the cooperative is set to be far more dynamic than in the past few years. According to Co-op Board Chair Tony Roisman, “Member engagement is among our top priorities.
"This meeting will be upbeat, feature useful information, a wonderful keynote and most of all, it will be about the listening to our members.” The meeting will be held Saturday, April 1 from 11 to 2 in the LISTEN Center at 42 Maple Street in White River Junction, Vermont.
Co-op General Manager Ed Fox said this renewed meeting format is a lively way to further energize and expand member’s appreciation and input on all-things-Co-op. “Any questions the members have, all the concerns they want to raise and all the kudos they want to offer, can be delivered one-on-one with staff and Co-op management while sharing delicious local food."
The theme of this year’s annual gathering is, ‘A Seat at The Table.’ According to Co-op Member Outreach Director Amanda Charland, there will be 16 tables set around the LISTEN Center meeting space, each with a topic and a board member or a Co-op staff representing their department’s offerings. “The employees at the tables will be from our stores and include our product buyers, and those who work one-on-one with our members and customers.” said Charland. Other table themes will include: candidates for the board elections, product selection at the Co-op, prepared food offerings, management and bylaws. Four of the tables will be hosted by the Co-op’s store managers. Food samples will feature Co-op-made smoked turkey sliders with caramelized onions, Muenster and chipotle pumpkin aioli, plus Mexican Street Corn Salad.
The economics of food, farming and co-ops will be the focus of Vermont Lieutenant Governor David Zuckerman’s keynote remarks to participants. In addition to his legislative insights, Zuckerman, an organic farmer who, with his wife Rachel Nevitt, runs Full Moon Farm in Hinesburg, Vermont is an ideal speaker on the topic ‘Co-ops: Healthy Food, Healthy Economy.’ In a statement, Lieutenant Governor Zuckerman said, "As a farmer, small business owner, and consumer I value the co-op model for focusing on the whole community: producers, employees, members, and consumers. It is a healthy economic model with a democratic voice."
This year’s meeting is another step by the Co-op board and management to enhance transparency and connect with members. New GM Ed Fox noted “Whether it’s a meeting like this or our Member Services and Outreach team sharing news about the Co-op and its weekly food specials and learning opportunities, we are committed to the goal of both informing our membership and being informed by our members. When members know more about our company, when we are responsive to what members want, they remain loyal supporters and advocates—that’s been happening for 81 years.”
This year’s Annual Meeting will also allow members to meet several key senior managers who have recently joined the Co-op team. In the past year, the Co-op has hired Ed Fox as general manager; Paul Guidone as chief financial officer; and Doren Hall as the new manager of the Co-op’s Lebanon store. In addition, long-serving Co-op employees Bruce Follett and Jacob Vincent have assumed new roles as directors of operations and merchandising, respectively.
For General Manager Ed Fox, Co-op success is all about people. “If I had to build a $70 million grocery cooperative starting tomorrow, the first thing I’d want is our current Co-op employees and team of managers. They are the prime reason this business attracts over 5,000 customers a day. We know this because our members tell us so.”
Board chair Tony Roisman predicts an even stronger Co-op in the coming years based on the quality of talent that the Co-op has attracted both at the management level and in staff positions throughout the stores. For example, Roisman commented that the Lebanon co-op’s new store manager Doren Hall is a “man with 30-years of extensive grocery experience—professionals of his caliber have plenty of career options. He chose our Co-op and we are delighted to have him working with our team.”
Citing the competitive challenges of running independent grocery stores and an auto service center, General Manager Ed Fox expressed optimism that the Hanover Co-op is up to the task. “Sales at our three food stores and community market make the Hanover Co-op the top seller of groceries in the Upper Valley region. It all starts with our fellow members making a commitment to shop at the business they own.”
In addition to being the date of the Annual Meeting, April 1 also marks the start of the Hanover Co-op’s month-long voting period to elect five board members who will be at the Annual Meeting to meet with members. Members will also begin the month-long voting on important by-law changes that will enhance member investment in the Co-op and simplify the Board of Directors election procedures.
“This is an Annual Meeting that every Co-op member will want to attend. We are looking forward to seeing you all there” said Ed and Tony.
The Hanover Consumer Cooperative Society was founded in 1936 by 17 local families. Today, it is the oldest food co-op of its kind in the United States and also the second busiest. This cooperative employs approximately 400 people and operates three full-service grocery stores, a community market, auto service center and commissary kitchen.
Press Contact: Allan Reetz