2012-08 LMC Board Minutes

La Montanita Food Cooperative

Board of Directors Meeting Minutes Final

August 21, 2012 – 5:30 pm

Board Present: Martha Whitman, Betsy VanLeit, Kristy Decker, Marshall Kovitz, Lisa Banwarth-Kuhn, Roger Eldridge

Also Present: Terry Bowling, Vicki Peck, Sarah Wentzel-Fisher, Jennifer Cornish, Sharrett Rose, Michelle Franklin, John Mullé, Laurie Langie – Coop Member, Maggie Seelie, Gary Bundy, and Sky Morgan – Sustainability Studies.

Board Absent: Jake Garrity, Susan McAllister, Ariana Marcello

The meeting started at 5:35 p.m. at the Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Albuquerque.  Jennifer Cornish facilitated the meeting and Sarah Wentzel-Fisher took notes.

  1. General Welcome and Introductions
  1. Approve the Agenda

Issues Raised: Betsy moved and Marshall seconded to approve the agenda.

Issues Raised:  At the break, Jennifer asked to have a conversation about changes to the agenda to ensure the meeting would not go over time.

Martha spoke for Marshall and proposed to continue with the agenda as proposed, with the omission of the board study. In addition, she proposed as addition in Board Functioning of an NNE report and a report on developments with the UNM Sustainability Studies Program.

Actions Taken:  The agenda was approved unanimously with the proposed changes.

Actions Required:  None

  1. Item Title:  Member Comments

Issues Raised:

A member expressed concerns about products purchased from companies with less than desirable business practices. The concern was forwarded to Terry as an operations question.

Actions Taken: None

Actions Required: None

  1. Item Title:  Consent Agenda
    Issues Raised: Martha moved and Roger seconded to approve the consent agenda.

    1. Board Minutes July 2012
    2. Finance Committee Report

Actions Taken: Passed unanimously

Actions Required: None

  1. Item Title: Management Monitoring Reports: Ends, Budgeting, and Planning

Issues Raised: Marshall moved and Roger seconded.

2012 has been a year of change – a year of milestones. 1989 Nob Hill came into existence. 2000 Rio Grande opens. 2002 CE comes on board as manager. 2005 Santa Fe and Gallup open. 2008 Terry comes on board as GM. 2011 UNM Store and new warehouse opens. 2012 planning for 2013. And 2013 will be a year of big changes.

Ends: This is the third set of ends in four years. Working in five year increments would be more realistic in terms of accomplishing goals. Terry sets aggressive goals for the coop.

Highlights of the year – Annual sales. If it weren’t for our members, none of this would be possible. We’ve achieved all-time highs in overall sales. The coop now has 1340 local vendors. Gallup sales are where they need to be, almost doubled from last year.

LAM Funds have loaned out nearly $86,000 to farmers and other social causes. We’d like to see it at $200,000 in the next year or two.

We are one of the five go to Coops in the country. We help other coops all over the state and country, usually for free. For example we helped Alamosa get their coop open. Greenstar coop in New York – we helped them go from one to two stores.

We haven’t had a spectacular system for member tracking, but our numbers are pretty stable, and we will have a better tracking system with our new POS.

Veteran Farmer Program – Robin and Terry met with reps from a similar program in San Diego. This program took a while to develop, but has been a great success in it’s first year.

Member survey results – About 2700 people participated. Most who returned materials reported positive feedback.

We’ve expanded our social media presence in the last year, its here to stay.

Volunteers / Ambassadors – There are so many people who give their time, and this continues to be a strong program.

CD Direct Agriculture Vendors: Kyzer Pork – we helped them develop branding; Old Windmill Diary – loan for a cheese cave and delivery truck, did pre-pays for a refrigerated air system; and Sweetgrass Coop we helped to develop a distribution system and do branding and marketing.

Maggie – I appreciate that I’m here. I also appreciate that this report reinforces the idea that a business needs money to be successful.

Laurie – I’m proud of La Montanita. I’m proud to be a member. And I’m proud of the work that we do that’s not profit based.

Betsy – I like this report, and I like our ends. It has led to reporting we haven’t seen before. It reinforces that our Ends are good.

Martha – I think the information in this report is important because it gives us a picture of our impact in the community. I really appreciate the improved detail and quality of the reporting.

Marshall – The overall report shows substantial improvements over last year. And, like other’s I’m very impressed with the results. I have several requests that I’d like to run by the board and by Terry. The global Ends statement requires that the reporting demonstrate that the results justify the cost incurred for achieving them. Currently, the reporting does not contain this information. As an example of one way to demonstrate that the results justify the ends, consider an anti-smoking campaign run by a non-profit. In reporting on Ends, and explaining how she/he justifies the resources used, the non-profit’s director might compare her/his results (how many people have stopped smoking) and costs with those of other non-profits doing the same work. The idea here is we are looking at ‘industry standards,’ with which we can compare our results/cost ratio.

Betsy – Several of the things that Terry reports on are quantifiable, like number of volunteer hours and attach that to the cost of the number of 18% discount cards, but how do we measure the social capital and benefit to the community?

Roger – There are three things in the report that stick out to me that already do that. If a survey is a valid indicator, our survey results tell us some of these. For example, the survey question that read the coop improves the health of my community, if you look at the results the difference between agree and strongly agree, the gap is closing, which shows that more people strongly agree that we’re doing this.

Betsy – The other piece that would need to be there is we’d have to be able to know how we did that.

Terry – Perhaps we could add a question that asks specifics of how we do it.

Marshall – I’d like to request that we see more multi-year reporting, so we can see milestones and evolution. How do we impact the economy with things like increasing our financial goals in areas like the CDC.

Finally, I’d like to see the survey become more effective. I’d like to make it statistically significant.

Figuring out better ways to measure and having a discussion about how to do this will need to be an ongoing conversation.

To sum it up, we need more specificity in reporting and specifics on our impact. We should consider using a road map with milestones.


Terry – I project a low net income, so we can do things like gain share.

Roger – I have great respect for your capacity with numbers. My concern is the rest of us keeping up with you. There are two details that caught my attention: you low ball budgets, being conservative is a good thing. The only problem I see is being overly conservative. My concern is we need to know the difference between what we ought to be doing and what we’re actually doing. Perhaps it’s better to look at how we are compared to same time last year in order to get past the low-ball budget process.

On the report we give out at the annual meeting is easier to follow, but the budget you give us is less clear. The board is largely a group of non-accountants, so having more details will help a non-accountant be able to see how you got from point A to point B in the budget. Perhaps this is something that the finance committee could look at and make some recommendations about budget presentation.

Marshall – From our governance perspective, as long as Terry’s budget meets the criteria in the executive limitations policies regarding budgets, and as long as Terry’s actual performance meets the budget, he is in compliance. From our perspective we’re concerned less about how aggressive vs. how conservative the budget is and more about whether the budget meets executive limitations criteria and then whether Terry meets the budget.

Terry – I like the idea of having a conversation with the Finance committee about a better way to present a consolidated report of the budget.

Betsy – I think addressing this is really important because this is truly a measure of our economic impact in the community.

Lisa – There are so many things that affect the on the ground work at the stores, like weather, and unemployment, and I appreciate the margins being set where they are, and I know my co-workers do also.

Marshall – I wanted to echo what Betsy said earlier, it is important that our budget reflects our Ends.

Martha – I would like to propose a board study where we work through identifying what part of the budget reflects certain Ends.

Jennifer – Would you like to bring that to the board development committee to get together a proposal for a future study?

Martha – Sure, that seems appropriate.

Passes unanimously.

Actions Taken:  The proposal was approved unanimously.

Actions Required: Sarah will put together a consolidated report on all comments from Sept 2011 through August 2012 on Monitoring Reports. Board Development Committee will develop a proposal for a future board study on identifying what part of the budget reflects certain ends. Finance Committee will collaborate with Terry to make suggestions about presentation for future budget reports.

  1. Item Title: POS System Proposal – Marshall

Issues Raised: Kristy moved and Martha seconded with an amendment by Terry to correct figures for the cost of the system – it should be $58,168.34. The figures had changed slightly since he had originally created the report and he wanted to makes sure they were accurate.

The new system will allow us to do gift cards and track them, rather than hand written gift certificates. It also allows us to do patronage refunds directly through the system. The new POS has a no-fail credit card system. It will also immediately update the entire network when a new member is added. The new system is designed for multiple stores. It does auto-ordering, based on purchasing and inventory. There are potential tax benefits.

Terry decided to go with this company because they have a great product, and the employees and owner care about their product.

The rollout to implement the new system will happen in Gallup and UNM first, to work out glitches, then will be in all stores by Dec. 1.

Actions Taken: Passed unanimously

Actions Required: None

  1. Item Title: Board Self Evaluation – 2nd half of B and 1st half of R

Issues Raised: There were a number of housekeeping comments made. Since we didn’t get our graphs and summary we will postpone until Sept. meeting.

Actions Taken: None

Actions Required: Sarah will have results of these surveys posted before the next meeting.

  1. Item Title: Board Study – Existing Regional Cooperative Networks – Marshall

Issues Raised: This topic has been postponed for a future meeting, yet to be determined when.

Actions Taken:  None

Actions Required:  None

  1. Item Title: Board Functioning

Issues Raised:

Annual Membership Meeting Agenda – to be created at next Monday’s Member Engagement Committee meeting.


Board Elections

There are five candidates for three positions, our nominations for candidates are closed. We’re doing our election online, and are working out the details through VoteNet. We have broken down a task list divided between board tasks and operations tasks. Details of the election will be available in the October newsletter.

Sustainability Studies Collaboration

Marshall – A number of us have continued to meet with UNM’s Sustainability Studies, and are making progress in terms of making more substantive plans.

Our initial brainstorm produced three ideas: a class on coop economics / coop model, a way for students to shadow coop employees and board members.

Upper division undergraduate class – Co-op Rocks, a practicum. Tues – Thurs 11 – 12:15, Sust 334 – 001, CRN 28368 (no pre-requisites). It will focus on having LAM as a client for a survey of coops in New Mexico, with a goal is expanding membership in the 20-40yr old demographic.

Marshall – I am working on a letter to request a meeting between a board representative, the UNM president, and Sustainability Studies to discuss future collaborations.

Actions Taken: None

Actions Required:  None

  1. Item Title: Administrative Asst. Duties / Assignments / Task List / Timeline Additions

Issues Raised:

Create summary monitoring report

Add to the task list:

Sarah, take all comments from the monitoring reports and consolidate into a single spreadsheet.

Member engagement meets next Monday at Martha’s house at 5:30pm

Board development committee 9/6 5:30pm Martha’s

Finance Sept 12th @ coop offices 5:15pm

Study circle meets at 9/13 at coop office at 6pm

Roger: write Patronage newsletter article, due Nov 10

Martha: write Coopera article, due Sep

Actions Taken: None

Actions Required: None

  1. Item Title: Meeting Evaluation

Issues Raised:

Laurie – It would be nice to have copies of monitoring reports available to look at if you have visitors to the meeting.

Lisa – I still would like to recommend that Terry meet with individual departments, I think it would get employees fired up.

Kristi – I think we need to allot more time for this monitoring report.

Actions Taken: None
Actions Required:  None

  1. Item Title: Next meeting construction

Issues Raised:

We will do self-evaluation next month for 2nd half of B and 1st half of R.

Actions Taken: None

Actions Required:  None

  1. Item Title:  Adjourn regular session

Actions Taken:  The meeting was adjourned at 8:15 p.m.

Actions Required:  None