By Josh Resnik, Wedge Community Co-op CEO
At the end of October, we announced that the co-op consolidation proposal passed by large majorities at the Wedge (82% “Yes” vote) and Linden Hills (87%) Co-ops. At Eastside Co-op a majority of owners voted in favor (51%), but not enough for the 2/3 vote required to pass the proposal. One of the most amazing things about the vote is that it drew record voter turnout in elections at each of the three co-ops—it was true democracy in action! So now that the proposal has passed at the Wedge and Linden Hills, what happens now?
While the proposal has passed, the actual date that the consolidation is official is July 1, 2017—the beginning of our next fiscal year. There is a lot of work that needs to be done to create the new organization. We have created eight teams from across the staff at the two co-ops to integrate systems for everything from human resources to purchasing to how we best use the commissary. Additionally, we need to figure out how to make best use of our new purchasing power to deliver owners the best prices and also to give fair value to our vendors.
The two boards of directors will continue to operate independently until after the close as well. With that said, there is an integration team comprised of two members of each current board that meets regularly to discuss governance-related issues with the consolidation. Also, each co-op’s general manager is sharing regular updates on his or her own co-op with the other co-op’s board. The two full boards also plan to meet with each other to discuss the shared vision of the new cooperative and develop systems for how the board will operate as the new organization. One element of the new governance structure is the establishment of site councils that represent the specific needs of each store and neighborhood; the boards are also working on how the site council positions will be filled and determining the site councils’ scopes and budgets.
Through consolidation, we think we can achieve the following business objectives that will ultimately better serve our owners:
- Buying Power—Through improved buying power, we can offer better prices.
- Organizational Stability—By diversifying our business, we can better sustain challenges to business.
- Accelerate Growth—We can leverage existing assets to build the co-op business model.
- Build Community—By improving the financial side of the business, we can invest more in the community.
Both the Wedge and Linden Hills have recently undergone renovations and made improvements to the shopping experience that are already benefiting owners. One thing we heard leading up to the consolidation vote is the importance of keeping the local, neighborhood feel of the existing stores. We would love your feedback about how to do that— what elements of your experience would you never want to change, and what things do you think could be improved? The Wedge will be conducting a comprehensive owner survey in February 2017 to help answer some of those questions, and we sincerely hope you will take the time to share your opinions. Your feedback will be essential to helping shape the new organization.
Please continue to look to our Facebook, email newsletters, website (coopsconnect.com), and future issues of The Share for further updates. If you have any questions or suggestions about the consolidation, you may direct them to: firstname.lastname@example.org.