General Assembly: Colorado

Co-ops review national progress and set 2006 priorities

In late September, nearly 100 co-op managers and organizational staff held sessions for the National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA). Regional and special interest groups, the General Assembly, and the board of directors shared in-depth reports and set priorities for 2006.

Three days of meetings held in Englewood, Colo., underscored substantial accomplishments since last year’s national consolidation into NCGA. CEO Don McLemore, CFO Jodie Larson, and other staff reviewed specifics of the foundation that has been laid for a virtual chain of co-ops.

Current strong points

  • Member satisfaction, reported by a recent in-depth survey, is high in all areas of NCGA programs, but so are expectations for further improvement.
  • Financial targets are being met, and a strong balance sheet shows no long-term debt and $2 million in member equity.
  • The Co-op Advantage promotional program continues to meet strong success and exceed projections.
  • Co-op Advantage branded packaging is ready to launch, a major new service leveraging the co-ops’ combined buying power for consistent national supplies such as grocery bags, coffee and soup cups, deli containers, and more.
  • NCGA negotiators and primary supplier United National Foods, Inc. are close to completing an agreement that will allow competitive pricing for co-ops nationally through a five-year contract totaling over $1 billion.
  • Additional NCGA staff have been hired to flesh out support for national and regional programs in the above areas, as well as in strengthened manager training and peer support.

Strategic priorities

NCGA’s mission reads: “thriving retail food co-ops working together with the strength of a national organization and the focus of a locally owned cooperative.” Strategic priorities for 2006 reflect a still-new organization, which has nearly half of its member co-ops undertaking expansion. These include:

Stronger stores —Develop better monitoring of store performance, with more peer workgroups and accountability.

Deeper training —With a view toward future management needs, focus training in three areas: prepared foods, human resources, and category management.

Improved communications —Through improved NCGA communications, including a website overhaul, integrate training activities with other organizational programs.

Branding initiatives —Support co-op marketing efforts, build the Co-op Advantage support brand, raise visibility of co-ops, and establish effective supplier programs.

New co-op development —Provide technical assistance to 10 startup co-ops (pilots) as a partner in the Food Co-op 500 program.

More capacity —Improve organizational staffing, reporting systems, and IT resources to manage purchasing and other agreements.


Dave Gutknecht is editor of Cooperative Grocer ([email protected]).

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