Board of Directors
Meet Your Board of Directors
Your Board of Directors steers the path of Outpost toward the future. The board is made up of nine owners just like you, chosen by annual election. This is where the true power of co-op ownership comes into play. Unlike corporations, co-op board elections are democratically run — owners all have an equal vote. Board members serve staggered 3-year terms.
Your current Outpost Board of Directors, pictured above from left to right: Lora Hyler, Jenny Keefe, Jan Pierce (treasurer), Young Kim (president), David Lee, Stephanie Calloway (secretary), Swati Agterberg (vice president), Patricia McFarland, Douglas Spencer.
Couldn't make it to this year's Annual Owner Meeting?
Here's what you need to know to be an informed owner!
Read the reports below to learn more about some of the issues discussed at the 2019 Annual Meeting.
Then, meet the candidates running for three open seats in this year's board election!
Report by Young Kim, Board President
There was a Chinese parable I heard when I was younger which offers up the wisdom that one can’t always judge the outcomes of a situation on the surface. Outcomes can be viewed as either good or bad, but we really don’t know until it plays out further or we study it in more detail.
Outpost has a contract with the local UFCW, a relationship that has been in place since the early 1980’s. While it’s not the board’s role to bargain with the union, the Outpost board studied how much it would cost to bring the minimum wages of our employees up to $15 an hour. In a single move that would cost the co-op $2 million dollars annually, an amount that is 14 times the profit the co-op made in 2018. Our employees deserve the best possible pay but singling out Outpost for $15 an hour minimum wages would create an unfair burden to the co-op in this highly competitive market.
Instead, let’s all work together for change to livable wages. We will support a city-wide or state-wide initiative to change public policy and create a level playing field for all. And not only for livable wages, but for renewable energy and composting. The co-op has many goals to improve our world and our community. It has always served us best when we work for change together.
Report by Pam Mehnert, General Manager
In 2019 we are celebrating 49 consecutive years of business for our co-op. While things have changed a lot in 49 years, things look much different today than they did even five years ago. Today’s market for organic and natural food sales is dominated by conventional supermarkets. In fact, 44% of all natural and organic products sold last year came from a supermarket and not a natural foods store or a co-op. Yet just five short years ago, natural product stores and co-ops captured the majority of those sales at 43% compared to 41% at supermarkets. What happened to the market we built?
Opportunity happened. Today in the metro area where we operate four co-op stores, there are a combination of 184 supermarkets, big box stores, national natural product stores, and a handful of small independents selling groceries. That is more food available in our area than there are people to buy it.
What makes the market even more competitive is that the retail price of food reached decade lows in 2016-2018, even lower than the Recession of 2009. Lower retail prices in the market has challenged everyone to compete, and for Outpost at times at the expense of spending those dollars where we really want to.
For every dollar of sales that come in we spend the majority of that dollar first paying our vendors, second paying our staff, and third paying all the rest of the expenses that keep the stores operating. To adjust our spending between those three categories can mean the difference of higher prices to meet higher wages, or lower operating costs to meet higher wages. And since livable wages is a part of our plan, something we’ve negotiated over the past two union contracts, we need to have a clear sense of how we will adjust those costs to meet our goals.
We also operate our co-op from a triple bottom line strategy, commonly referred to as the “three P’s”: People (owners, employees, community), Planet (sustainable practices), and Profit (what we need to keep our business afloat). To learn more about living wage and what it will take to achieve that goal, click the link on this page of our website.
What does the Outpost board do?
CREATES CO-OP POLICIES
The board’s primary role is to oversee the direction of the co-op through Outpost’s general manager, which it does through the creation of board policies. Outpost employees, as directed by Outpost’s General Manager, manage day-to-day operations, like stocking, cooking, ordering, marketing, product selecting and administrative duties.
ENVISIONS & EVALUATES
The board conducts its ongoing work at monthly board meetings. At these meetings the board monitors policy compliance, understands the co-op’s finances, plans activities to engage owners, discusses the future and evaluates their work. The board also approves all borrowing of money and pledging of any of the co-ops assets as security for the money borrowed.
SEE FOR YOURSELF
The best way to understand what the board does at the co-op is to attend a board meeting and see for yourself. For the board's meeting schedule and a list of previous meeting minutes, CLICK HERE and scroll to bottom of the page.
Have a question or a suggestion for the Board?