Transitioning to a Restructured Organization

On May 4, at a special meeting of the National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA) membership, the membership directed management to proceed with the reorganization as detailed in the reorganization plan. [For background, see “Local Co-ops Build National Presence” in the previous edition of CG.] In addition, the members approved proposed amendments to the NCGA Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws that allow direct membership in NCGA and incorporate the governance and other bylaw changes needed to fully implement the reorganization plan.

Now that these changes have been made, there is great deal of activity “behind the scenes.” CGA staff are diligently working to make the transition to a direct-membership organization as smooth and seamless as possible for our food co-op members. (See the list of staff below.)

On April 29 and 30, all CAP (Co-op Advantage Program) staff and executive directors met in Washington for a two-day planning session. Activities underway include obtaining member signatures on the acquisition agreements, obtaining completed membership agreements from those co-ops joining NCGA, finalizing supply agreements as well as other contract assignment documents, conducting an assessment of the bookkeeping and reporting systems currently used by each program or regional component, and conducting an assessment of the database needs of the system.

We have established a variety of staff committees and teams to help with transition planning and monitoring. These committees will work on areas including monitoring legal transactions, member communication, approaches to determining future program priorities, database and management reporting needs, strategies, and procedures for the transition of CGAs to Corridors, the ongoing management of Corridor activities, staff benefit plans for the new organization and internal communications, and tactics for building an effective national staff team.

First up: accounting system

Steve Wolfe from Cooperative Development Services is assisting transition manager Rosemary Mahoney with an assessment of current systems within the organizations being consolidated. The top priority of this assessment will be the design of an accounting system with adequate internal controls for the reorganized NCGA. At this time, we expect to roll programs into the centralized accounting system in stages. The priorities for incorporating programs will be based on factors including size of the program, need for central oversight and control, and the ability of system to accommodate.

The database systems will include three components: a contact management system suitable to an organization with numerous locations; a purchasing database to track business services; and the accounting system. These systems will be linked as needed. Our plan is to have the system designed by July 1, with the building and rollout of various components staged over several months, depending on cost and other factors.

We are currently pulling together the existing employee benefit programs; the above-mentioned staff committee will compare these programs and evaluate additional benefits as may be appropriate. We plan to make a recommendation for an NCGA staff benefits plan to the board of directors during their June meeting.

CGA staff are also involved in developing content for several workshops at the June 10–12 Consumer Cooperative Management Association (CCMA) conference. One of these will focus on national vendor relationships, which will be a first step in the discussions needed to develop a national purchasing program. Following CCMA, a retailer committee will be formed with representatives from each corridor to discuss the framework of national purchasing. Information about the activities of the Co-op Brand Advisory Group will also be presented during a CCMA workshop.

The NCGA Management Team (myself, Dave Blackburn, Annie Hunt, Peg Nolan, Corinne Shindelar and Karen Zimbelman) met in late May for a retreat and team-building session in Seattle. The overall purpose of this retreat was to build a strong foundation for effective and supportive management team performance. Without question, this session was productive and successful at building a framework whereby the leadership of the various former organizations can operate effectively together—moving NCGA and its member co-ops successfully into the future.

Please join me in recognizing and thanking the following staff for their past and future service as they work diligently to make this a smooth transition for NCGA members:

Dave Blackburn, East Corridor
Peg Nolan, East Corridor
Corinne Shindelar, Central Corridor
Karen Zimbelman, West Corridor
Annie Hunt, National CAP/Purchasing
Joan Guettler, Promotions Coordinator, CAP
Bini Reilly, CAP, East Corridor
Rick Sheller, CAP, West Corridor
Tom Snyder, Merchandising, East Corridor
Heidi Tweiten, CAP, Central Corridor
Donna Schaufman, CAP, East Corridor
Pat Cumbie, Publications, Central Corridor
Chris Ryding, Prepared Foods, Central Corridor
Dave Schermerhorn, Value Added Business Services Purchasing, Central Corridor
David Fowle, Administration, East Corridor
Stacey Holland, Administration, Central Corridor
Ben Nauman, Administration, NCGA Office
Meg Torrance, Administration, Central Corridor
Bella Waters, Administration, West Corridor

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