Anne Carter is the general manager of Natural Harvest in Virginia, Minn., and in order for her to do more long-range development in response to the board’s planning policies, she had to adjust operations to serve the co-op’s Ends. “I couldn’t do everything and I needed to take the co-op to the next level by dividing up my responsibilities,” said Carter.
She sought out the assistance of Mel Braverman, operational and financial improvement consultant with CDS CC in early 2012, and worked out a multiphase process to develop new job positions and increase responsibility for department managers. In addition to getting people comfortable in their new roles, they also tackled department resets and the installation of a new point of sale system.
As Carter worked on internal readiness, it has put the store in a better position for its next expansion, and given her the opportunity to do more planning for it. The restructuring has also had a big impact on sales and staff morale. The store is showing growth in a town that is very dependent on the vagaries of the mining industry, as well as dealing with its cramped quarters. “It’s been more of a team-building effort. It helps the managers be more professional and some people have been here awhile. They enjoy the new challenges.” The restructuring also caused her to increase her skills too, by managing a more sophisticated team, as well as meeting the expectations of the board through her reporting on the Ends and Executive Limitations policies.
Carter also said that by working with Michael Healy of the CBLD program on the board and Braverman for operations, she believed that she was getting a lot of valuable guidance. “Each store is unique, but there are still stages that are similar. I can get a lot of information from people who work with a lot of co-ops.”