by Peter Steinberg, WSGC Board Member
Now that the eventful year of 2004 is finally behind us, the Board and membership of the Willy Street Co-op must turn our focus towards the coming year, which promises to bring significant changes to the operations and community presence of our store. As a start to the year, the Board met on January 4, 2005, in the Community Room, where the principal task was the annual evaluation of the General Manager. The Board reviewed a number of parameters in making this judgment, including input from the staff through the annual survey, interviews with department managers, feedback from outside contacts with the GM, the report of the Finance Committee, and the GM’s self-evaluation. It is important to understand that the current success of Willy Street Co-op is not the result of coincidence or good fortune, but is directly related to the stable and energetic management team, working in harmony with the motivated, well-trained staff. Much of the credit for the steady forward progress of the Co-op since the move to our present location goes to our widely-admired General Manager. Time and again the Board has heard comments about how difficult it can be to make a successful transition to a new site, and how challenging it can be to maintain a financially sound operation during times of change. We must not take our present favorable financial circumstances for granted, and we cannot expect an untroubled future as we attempt to expand, but having a GM with an established record of creative competence gives us confidence that our next moves will be well planned and well directed.
The first fruits of our long years of planning for expansion will be garnered this month, as the off-site kitchen goes into operation. The Co-op should see an immediate benefit in the efficiency of production for the Deli, and a long-term benefit in making the facility available for community purposes and for expanded product lines. The Board will be kept closely advised as to the progress of the OSK, and the impact on other Co-op operations. Any negative effects from the change-over to off-site production will provide an educational opportunity for the next challenge.
The Board will be meeting for a planning session in February to evaluate the current expansion picture, and refocus on the immediate needs of our overall strategy. We are aware that the Monroe Street site option has some potential risks that need to be addressed, and while we continue to regard Monroe Street as our most desirable location for a second store, we must examine all viable options prior to making such a substantial commitment of resources. Madison can support many additional retail grocery markets in various locations, and Willy Street Co-op has been assisting other co-ops to get started or remain open to meet the community needs. The members of Willy Street Co-op will be called upon to support our future plans, both by voting to approve specific proposals, and by purchasing bonds to fund the implementation of the plans. Please stay involved with your Co-op, and watch your newsletter and postings in the store for developments.