A Message from the Board

from Boise Co-op Board of Directors President Shannon McGuire

Note: This statement was sent as a response to the Boise Weekly; the Board response to Co-Owner concerns from Monday’s Board meeting can be found HERE

Board President Shannon McGuire

Board President Shannon McGuire

As a 46-year-old organization, the Boise Co-op has experienced tremendous growth— mostly over the last decade. We went from operating a single store to managing five storefronts and a staff of nearly 250 employees that together generates over $44 million in revenue. Like any organization, growth of this nature creates challenges— especially when it comes to culture. So we went looking for a leader who could steer us through these challenging times, and prepare the Boise Co-op for the future.

When the Board of Directors hired Michelle Andersen, we did so because of her incredible track record of leadership, ability to build positive and engaged cultures, strong business acumen, and her longstanding love for our Co-op. Both the Board and Michelle knew that the task before us would be challenging. The legacy of the Boise Co-op is deeply rooted—built upon relationships and love for our community.

Over the last seven months under Michelle's leadership, we have advanced a number of positive outcomes for the Boise Co-op:

  • We have a new social purpose statement that is representative of who we are and what we believe. Stand Up for Honest Food is more than a statement; it’s an expression of our DNA.

  • We have selected and built core values that were created through input from every employee. These values focus on cultural competencies that empower our employees in their daily jobs.

  • We are designing a robust skill-building program, holding more transparent conversations, and creating space to understand insights, pain points, and suggestions.

  • We have added five (5) additional paid holidays, increasing from the original two (2).

  • We filled three (3) key senior management team positions with internal candidates.

  • We created the first-ever “Go Forward” business plan for the organization, our version of a strategic plan.

  • We added a Culinary Director and Executive Chef to re-imagine the prepared foods program in our Deli.

The Deli is our largest department and it is imperative that we operate efficiently while adding delightful options for our shoppers. This means taking a deeper look into our operating practices, menu offerings, food procurement and how we engage with our local farmers and partners. The hiring of Jin Yang was an intentional investment in the transformation of our deli into an incredible source of delectable food offerings.

Personnel changes, whether voluntary or involuntary are always sources of interest and speculation. Our annual turnover rate is currently at 61%. The retail industry average is slightly above 60%. We are not accepting this as a standard within our organization. Our focus is in on increasing employee engagement by addressing their top three wants; which are communication, training and development, and systems and processes so they can feel successful in their roles.

Some incorrect statements made by the Boise Weekly demand correction, particularly: “Several jobs at the Boise Co-op have been cut, triggering a rash of employees leaving their posts.” This is untrue.

  • At this time, two (2) positions have been eliminated and one (1) position elevated because of a reorganization to reflect the changing needs of the Coop.

  • Those employees who were affected were welcome to re-apply for other positions within the Co-op.

  • To date we are aware of two (2) employees leaving their paid positions as a response to management decisions.

While we cannot go into detail about the ending of any employee relationship, what we can say is every decision made at the Co-op is is done so with the best interests of our community, our co-owners and our employees squarely in mind.

We are building a culture of an empowered, engaged, and supportive workforce. For us, this means ensuring our managers and employees have a clear and consistent way to communicate with one another. There have been no drastic changes to policies under Michelle’s tenure. What has become a priority is establishing a no-tolerance approach to bullying, and to the reduction of spiteful, mean-spirited treatment of coworkers in our organization. This effort is aligned with our identity as a cooperative organized for the betterment of our community.

The Board fully supports Michelle and the strategic direction she has laid out for the Boise Co-op. She is building a team and culture that is purpose-driven to serve the identity, mission and vision of the organization. Change is never easy. The Board of Directors together with Michelle and her leadership team are working in close collaboration to ensure the best outcomes for the Boise Co-op.

As one of the top ten Co-ops in the nation, with nearly 40,000 members in support of us, we feel that more than ever, we need to stand up for the things we believe. Our priorities for the Boise Co-op are as follows:

  • To be a great place to shop that includes a variety of healthy, high-quality, and locally-grown foods, goods and services.

  • Continue to be a thriving ethical, sustainable, and economically sound enterprise with strong governance.

  • Become the best employer with trained, educated, and motivated employees who provide outstanding customer service and a memorable shopping experience.

  • Serve as a key leader in the community that supports local food system development through strategic partnerships and community outreach.

  • Continue to be a resource for educational opportunities that shares the benefits of the cooperative business model and the impact of making healthy choices.

  • Stand as a representative for the unified voice of our co-owners to advocate and support policy and causes related to food, agriculture, and sustainability.

We continue to work towards collective harmony, a positive spirit of action, and respectful honesty.