board of directors

Statement from Boise Co-op Board of Directors and CEO

Statement from Boise Co-op Board of Directors and CEO

September 12, 2019

Thank you

First, thank you to everyone who attended the Boise Co-op Board of Directors meeting on September 9. We appreciate your time and candor as you shared your concerns, support, and questions. We would also like to thank our crew, Co-Owners and shoppers that were unable to attend and took the time to reach out to us. As the Board of Directors and CEO we want you to know that we appreciate your feedback and your input.

The intent of this letter is to provide clarity, facts and insight where needed. This is not only in reply to the attendees of the Board meeting on September 9, but also the various people that have reached out to us. There are a number of questions circulating due to either a lack of information or deliberate misinformation. We recognize that this is a result of unclear and inconsistent communication. Honest and transparent communication is key to everyone understanding the “why” behind the decisions that are made and the direction we are going. We all need to work on this and it starts at the top. Our goal is to encourage a culture of accountability, and to more clearly outline the relationship between employees and managers.


Part of this narrative is intended to clarify the different roles that make up our Co-op. Each and every one of us choose to show up and most of us are here because we believe in the Co-op’s vision, mission and role in the community. To those who are here to help move us forward with purpose and integrity, we are grateful for your contributions. We have a long way to go and we hope you’re in for the long haul. Thank you.


Our Purpose

Our purpose is to Stand Up for Honest Food. Our core values are: collective harmony, positive spirit of action, and respectful honesty. Every Boise Co-op employee should be familiar with these concepts because we built them together. And together we intend to live and to work by these principles.

The Cooperative Model

A number of references have been made as to what the co-op model is and how it is designed for the benefit of employees. We want to provide some clarity and information on this. Cooperatives are owned and driven by the members—at the Boise Co-op we use the term “Co-Owner.”

The Boise Co-op exists to serve our Co-Owners through the purchasing of goods and services. We were organized for that reason—to provide access to good food at a reasonable price as a buying club. In addition to getting the products and services they want, Co-Owners also get a share in the profit of the Co-op. We return this in the form of a patronage dividend. Each household is allowed one membership and one vote. Through this democratic process we elect a Board of Directors. The Board serves as representation of our 33,000+ Co-Owners.

Employees can be Co-Owners, but they do not get preferential treatment for being employed by the Co-op. They are allowed one vote per household along with other benefits under the Co-Ownership allotment. The decisions we make are first and foremost for the benefit of our Co-Owners.

You can find our bylaws and Board policies online (if you’re reading this in print: www.boise.coop/directors)

Our Culture

First, and because questions were raised at our forum, retaliation is not the cost for those who speak up to management or the Board. This policy is explained on page 20 of the Employee Handbook. Staff ideas and insight are always welcome and encouraged. This being said, in an attempt to foster a shared sense of mutual respect and professionalism, we will not condone mean-spirited, spiteful, or bullying behavior. The expectation for all involved parties is to maintain considerate etiquette. 

Nor do we allow for insubordination; by this we mean refusal to obey direction from a supervisor and disrespect shown to management in the form of vulgar or mocking language—or making threats, spreading rumors and engaging in toxic gossip. This is destructive behavior that creates tension, loss of progress, and decreased morale. This is the very antithesis of who we are as a cooperative; it negates and undermines our values and will not be tolerated.

We as a Board of Directors and leadership team are committed to the creation and nurturing of a positive, empowering, and collaborative work culture. We all play a role in keeping this going. Our hope is that with honest and open discussion and mutual understanding of problems we can grow our collective confidence and trust, and improve our working relationships. 

Accountability Structure

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Deli Leadership Positions

The senior leadership team decided to invest in our largest department. The positions of Culinary Director and Executive Chef are strategic investments in the Co-op. In an industry where a grocery’s deli is typically a profit center, driving innovation and profits to the store, the Boise Co-op deli operations are an unfortunate exception; they have been losing money for several years. To help us reinvent and re-invigorate our deli operations, we turned to industry leaders who are excited to help us;  Jin Yang and Chris Paquette together bring more than 45 years of culinary talent and leadership. Jin is regularly listed as one of the food industry’s leaders in sustainability and environmental innovation. We tasked them with nothing short of transformation of this important function, and to also train and develop our future culinary leaders. We realize we should have been more clear about these positions and why Jin and Chris were selected right from the get go, and apologize for the confusion and frustration this caused. We’ll do better moving forward.

The ECHO Program

Both representatives of the previous ECHO resigned from their roles, subsequently leaving the positions vacant and dormant. We received feedback that the program needs revising because it isn’t effective. We also learned that the ECHO program created unintended consequences in communication breakdowns and gaps between department managers and their staff. We are taking this feedback seriously and exploring viable and sustaining alternatives which address the future of the program.

At this time we are not bringing the program back. True to our shared values that we stated above, we prefer to build a culture of open, honest and productive conversations between managers and their team. We have a system for employees to share concerns with their managers, not with a middleman who might not accurately translate the employee’s issues. To that end we have made changes to the managerial roster. One of our top priorities is to establish and grow that trust between managers and employees who are working together to rebuild these relationships. The graphic below outlines the best way to voice concerns.

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*the employee forums are a new addition that will take place quarterly, beginning on October 9 (at the Village) and 10 (at the North End). Employees should look for more info by the time-clocks and in meeting minutes in the next couple of weeks.

Employee Wage Increases

We want to clarify that wage increases are not capped at 3 percent. We set an organizational budget of 3 percent — as we have done for the last five years. We asked managers to provide reasoning, documentation and request for approval for any increase above this amount. This ensures accountability to budget and fairness in evaluation practices. 

One of the most urgent priorities on our “Go Forward” business plan is to implement a Total Pay package with a clear methodology and consistent application. Work is now underway and we will be providing progress updates along the way, with the goal to implement as soon as possible. 

A critical outcome of the across-the-board review described above will be clarity for employees about their compensation. Part of that review will be a clarification about salary caps, so that employees can see how to increase their wage either through performance or through a change in position. These discussions will take place between managers and their employees.

Personnel Decisions and Salary Information

Personnel decisions and salary information are private and closely held between the employee and the Co-op. The Board does not get involved in these conversations. As stated before, our sole employee is the CEO. Personnel changes, and the reasons for them, are private, to protect the privacy and integrity of all Boise Co-op employees. 

We set salaries and pay scales commensurate with an employee’s position and experience. Historically, we have brought on many entry level employees at the minimum starting wage (currently $10.76). Pay ranges exist for all jobs within our organization; hiring managers are being encouraged to bring new hires on at a pay within the job’s pay range that is commensurate with the new employees’ experience and skills. 

Long-term and Legacy Employees

As part of our pay evaluation process, we are reviewing our overall compensation terms. This process will include a focus on our long-term employees. 

Boise Co-op in the News

It’s likely that you’re aware of the various articles and social media posts being made about our organization. There are several accusations and personal attacks being circulated and we will not engage in tit for tat exchanges. That’s not who we are. 

Uncertainty creates a mixture of emotions—most of which lean toward the negative. Again, our intention is to provide clarity, insight and open and honest dialogue around these issues. We know the Co-op plays an important role in many people’s lives in our community, and our main goal is to ensure the Boise Co-op survives and thrives for another 46+ years. 



Annual Meeting and Community Partner Awards

Thanks to everyone who made it to the Annual Meeting this year! We held it at the Boise Depot and had over 120 people in attendance. Delicious food, great local wine and beer, and awesome conversations made this our best Annual Meeting yet!

This year, we honored some of our local vendors and community partners with awards to recognize some special achievements. In case you missed it, here is the recap:

  • Vendor of the Year: Dawson Taylor Coffee Roasters

    • Dawson Taylor has been an awesome partner for us since the business got rolling 14 years ago. They are always willing to donate coffee for our events, hang out with us while we serve breakfast to bike-powered commuters, and even lend us their awesome bike trailer so we can get our burritos to Hyde Park in a greener way.

  • Outstanding Co-op Partner: Idaho Foodbank

    • We partner with Idaho Foodbank throughout the year to help combat Idaho’s serious food insecurity problem. Their operations are so efficient that turn every dollar donated into 5 meals for hungry Idahoans.

  • Innovation Award: Downtown Teaching Farm

    • This Boise High School urban farm takes close to 600 lbs of our food scraps every week and turns it into rich compost for their garden and orchard. They’ve helped us keep 15 tons of organic matter out of the landfill in the last year.

  • Star Vendor: Wildflour Bakery

    • Wildflour not only makes dangerously delicious cookies, they also have the highest sales of any of our local vendors. Not bad for starting out baking in a garage 25 years ago.

    We also wanted to recognize our local vendors who are scaling up their businesses as our sales continue to grow. We love when our customers choose local, because it truly has an impact on these awesome businesses!

  • Outstanding Small Vendor Growth: Better Man Beard

    • Largest year over year sales increase in our small vendor category. If you’ve noticed an uptick in shiny, good-looking beards around the valley, this is why.

  • Outstanding Medium Vendor Growth: Bucksnort Soda Company

    • Largest year over year sales increase in our medium vendor category. Have you tried making a root beer float with their root beer? No wonder these tasty sodas are growing in popularity!

  • Outstanding Large Vendor Growth: Acme Bakeshop

    • Largest year over year sales increase in our large vendor category. These bakers wake up at 2 am to bake us some of the tastiest bread in the state, made from wheat grown on the Idaho Palouse.

For more info on our local sales, community impact, and year-in-review, check out our Annual Report below!

Update From the Board!

Dear Co-Owners,


It is with great pleasure and excitement that we announce our newest Board Members, while reluctantly saying goodbye to those that have loyally served the Co-op, and you, its Co-Owners over the last few years. On that note, we are pleased to retain Shannon McGuire and Divit Cardoza for three-year terms, and  to welcome Jay Henry to a three-year term and Charles Raymond to a two-year term. We want to extend a sincere thank you to Tana Ruud and Jay Holmes, who have been wonderful assets to the board; graciously donating not only their time, but also their expertise in the industry and their services for the benefit and continued success of our Co-op. These positions are entirely volunteer-based and we recognize and greatly value the time and commitment these board members give.

The Board of Directors plays a pivotal role in the functionality of the co-op by hiring and managing the CEO/GM, empowering them to work closely with the executive management staff who in turn oversee the day-to-day operations of the Co-op.

In coming off a very successful quarter, we are excited to be finalizing the last of the arrangements for our Annual Meeting and the 45th Anniversary Celebration of the Boise Co-op,  taking place at the Boise Train Depot on October 27th from 1:00 - 4:00pm. We would love for you all to join in the celebration with us! We will have some great food, music, wine & beer, activities for children, and a celebration of our local vendors!

Keep up to date with us on social media, as well as through our monthly communications. We are excited to announce that the board will be hosting informal meet-and-greet events each month in the Co-op’s Uncorked! Wine Bar with fabulous wines and Co-op prepared food pairings! Seating will be limited so be sure to scoop up your tickets first thing!

In service,

Your Board of Directors