Harvest Co-op Markets
Board of Directors Meeting
January 26, 2004
Present: Ed Barsamian (general manager), Andrew Weaver
(President), Sujatha Byraven (vice-president), Jeff
Rosenblum (secretary), Mike Wiecek (treasurer), Kwah
Waadabi, Dave Hermann, and Dave Foley (board members),
Mary Grinnell (member worker), Killian Leese, Camille
Maye, Aileen Bellwood, Joanna Zimmer Dawn Olsson,
Marc Cutler, Emily Higgins, Paul Souza, Rita Barry,
Absent: Elisa Alonso
The meeting convened at 7:00 pm in the Community
Room of the Cambridge Store.
Revisions to the Agenda: addition of 25
minutes to address guest concerns
Staff and Guest Concerns
A group of staff members and other guests attended the
meeting to voice concerns to the board. Camille Maye
began by saying that as a staff person she would like
to be informed about store changes before they happen.
She said she feels like each time she comes in someone
else has been fired. Aileen said that competent people
are being laid off and she is concerned about the
decision making process in the store. She asked what
role the board has in decision making. Priscilla added
that she is concerned that Robbie Gray (former HABA
manager) is no longer with the store. Aileen said
that the HABA department is feeling that as well.
Camille said she doesn't understand why there wasn't
a warning. Michael Bloom said that institutional memory
is important. Priscilla pointed out that there's no
manager on the floor who is female at this point.
Mike Wiecek answered that the board and
Ed were constrained by policy and law from discussing
particular personnel matters publicly, which could be
somewhat unsatisfying. The role of the board is policy
setting oversight. The members aren't in the store everyday
and don't manage day-to-day operations, but does set
objectives and policies. The board supervises and oversees
the general manager and relies on the manager to carry
out business of the store. Concerns about personnel processes
are very important to the board.
Dave Foley asked for Ed to respond. Ed said
that he can't specifically tell the group what went into
decision to let Robbie go. He knows about her popularity
and length of service. He made the decision specifically
to help the store survive which is the same reason he
let Joel Froomer (former Grocery manager) go, whom he
recruited himself. Ed says that he doesn't make decisions
that aren't in best interests of Harvest.
Dave Foley said that it is important to
see staff as people. Ed added that a lot of people have
been let go in his year and a half. If those changes
not made, store would not be here. He said that it is
horrible to have to let people go.
Killian Leese identified himself as a loyal
Co-op shopper and said that warmth, culture, and process
are important words that have been said in the comments.
He understands that there are competitors who are competing
for business, but he also wants the board to know that
the culture of the coop is what will hold his business.
Dave Hermann said that he came around to
Ed's point of view. Although the decision was not ideal
it was defensible. Abrupt decisions have to be made because
some employees do damage after being let go.
Aileen said that there have been seven HABA
managers in the seven years she has been here. She is
concerned about the Co-op in general. Three people who
represented co-op ideals have been let go recently and
she feels that when there is dissent from management
they are let go. Fewer and fewer people making decisions
and the HABA dept. doesn't have a voice because there
is no manager.
Paul Souza said that if store isn't financially
viable we can't fulfill the mission and co-ops are struggling
all over the country. Joanna Zimmer said that people
come to shop at Harvest because they're sick of buying
crap. They like what Harvest does and how we do it. If
we lose sight of that, we've got a big problem. It important
to keep heads above water financially, but it's also
important to have self-respect and not come in worrying
you'll still have a job.
Dave Foley added that no one would say finances
and operational issues aren't important, but that doesn't
mean we can't have a culture where human dignity is important.
Dave asked Ed what kind of culture he wants to build.
Ed responded that he think Harvest is a human, respectful
workplace. Joanna added that there is still a creative
Andrew thanked everyone for coming in and
said that is a topic of discussion of conversation and
action for the board. It important to have a viable store
and that includes having a co-op culture that everyone
is happy and proud about. Mike added that it is hard
to get things done in a board meeting. All of the board
members have published emails and phone numbers.
President's Report - Andrew Weaver
Andrew reported the following:
· Sales continue to be good.
· Everyone should have gotten new committee assignments.
He hasn't heard back from any board member so assumes
that there aren't problems with the assignments. Andrew
encouraged committee chairs to set a regular meeting
date and put it on the calendar (by contacting Chris).
· Eliza is willing to play a role in the planning
· New HR person has started. During next executive
committee meeting address approach to HR and personnel
issues. There is a need to pay attention to current issues
as well as standard operating procedures.
· Andrew also asked that the board read the materials
in the packet about having staff members on the board.
Eyes and Ears of the Board
Sujatha said that there are long lines in the evenings.
Kwah suggested that member workers can help bag. He
is also concerned about special ordering items. Andrew
said that in JP blueberries rang up way over price
and there was no shortening to buy. Mike said that
bulk chocolate doesn't look good. Mary wants to have
like items in the same location in the store.
Approval of January 26 Board Minutes
Motion: Motion to approve subject to changing
Dave Foley for Dave Hermann in the board buddy list and
the clarification that suggestion was to have the Finance
and Executive Committee meeting on the same night, not
to combine them.
The Board Retreat is scheduled for Saturday,
March 6. The planning committee is headed by Dave Foley.
There has been the suggestion of marketing as a theme
and the possibility of getting a marketing consultant.
There has also been discussion about focusing on Human
Resources and work culture issues or a combination of
There was a discussion about the content
of the retreat. There were suggestions to do SWOTs around
themes or issues rather than divided by departments.
Ed and Dave Foley will get together to shape the retreat.
GM Report - Ed Barsamian
Ed reported the following:
· The Community Room has new carpet
· Staff members are painting the store
· There are now overhead heating elements for
cashiers and the café
· On May 22 there will be a celebration of the
5th anniversary of JP store
· The ambience of café has made a dramatic
improvement - plants, flowers, music
[The meeting moved into executive session]
Minutes submitted by Natalie C. Jaeger