Thank you for your interest in running for Marquette Food Co-op’s Board of Directors! Serving on the board is an exciting way to be involved in visioning the future of our cooperative business. The board uses a combination of policy governance and strategic planning to guide the Co-op toward a sustainable future for our community.
The Marquette Food Co-op has nine directors, each serving a three-year term. It varies from year to year as to how many seats are open. The Nominations Committee is charged with recommending a slate of candidates who can provide leadership for the Co-op.
The following information should be read thoroughly. You will need to fill out all parts of the Candidate Application by December 31st if you are seeking a board position in January of the new year.
APPLICATIONS DUE DECEMBER 31st!
We appreciate your interest in serving on the Marquette Food Co-op’s board!
The Marquette Food Co-op began in 1971 when a group of people came together to find a way to procure natural foods at reasonable prices in an area where there were no deliveries being made. Owners took turns driving to People’s Warehouse in Ann Arbor to pick up food. The monthly order meetings and potluck would often attract 50-60 owners. During this period, the distribution center had a series of locations, first in a private house on Ohio Street, then in a garage on Third Street, and finally in a store basement on the corner of Washington and Seventh Streets. The food was kept in cold storage at Jilbert’s Dairy and hauled to the basement one day per week.
In the mid-1970s, Common Health Warehouse in Duluth expanded its distribution area, and regular deliveries began in Marquette. At that point, the Marquette Food Co-op was the third largest customer after Duluth and Keweenaw Co-ops and was in a position to hire its first manager. As ownership continued to grow, many owners loaned money to purchase the building at 325 West Washington, which would become the Co-op’s home for over twenty years. Now it was operating a retail storefront, open during regular business hours, with a full-time paid manager, but still relying heavily on the volunteer hours put in by the owners.
The financial well-being of the Co-op varied enormously over the next two decades, reflecting local and national trends in both the economy and the cooperative movement. There were periods of rapid growth, stable years, and difficult times, but there was always a core group of hardworking owners dedicated to the cooperative principles. These owners were often required to work long volunteer hours and make difficult decisions. In the mid-1990s, the Co-op faced its most serious financial crisis, and with mounting debt, declining ownership, and high management turnover, it came close to closing its doors. Again the owners responded and kept the doors open, operating with an entirely volunteer staff and some rigorous financial controls. When the financial situation improved, and experienced manager was hired and the Co-op grew leaps and bounds.
In 2000, there was a serious discussion about expanding so that the Co-op could offer its owners more products and become more of a one-stop shop. The decision was made to sell the Washington Street building and relocate to a larger, leased building. Years of planning followed. In 2002, the Co-op opened its doors in its present location at 109 West Baraga Avenue. By the end of 2005, gross sales had increased to more than one million dollars per year, and the staff had grown to 25. In September of 2006, the Co-op expanded yet again, this time into the adjacent space in their current building.
At the start of 2014, our Co-op had 3,529 owners and 96 employees. This year marked another expansion. On May 22nd our Co-op relocated to a significantly larger storefront at 502 W. Washington Street. Our new location has a deli, café space, better parking, wider aisles, increased product selection, a teaching classroom, and enough space to eventually play a role in the aggregation and distribution of local food.
Board Responsibilities & Compensation
Co-op members who are considering a position on the board are encouraged to consider the possibility of serving more than one term, since the learning curve for new board members takes the better part of one year. Before the March elections, candidates are required to have attended a Getting to Know Your Co-op class, held on the second Monday of each month at 6pm. There is a sign-up sheet in the store, or you may call 225-0671 x724. Candidates are also required to sit in on one regularly scheduled board meeting (3rd Tuesday of each month @ pm in the Co-op Classroom) before the election date.
Members are expected to:
- Attend monthly meetings with no more than two absences a year.
- Review all board packet materials before the monthly meeting.
- Have internet access and an email address.
- Participate in annual planning. This may be a Strategic Planning Retreat or several long sessions.
- Participate in board development and training sessions.
- Attend the General Meeting of Owners in the spring and the Harvest Potluck in the fall.
- Be available to receive or address member concerns.
- Abide by the Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct.
Board members receive a monthly $70 in-store credit.
A term is three years, and a member may serve two consecutive terms, for a total of six years. After two terms, a member must wait one year before running again.
Code of Ethics
The bounds of authority as outlined in this code serve as a medium by which greater unanimity and closer coordination can be affected between directors, and among directors, management, and Co-op employees.
Authority: The board recognizes its authority as being limited to overseeing the affairs of the cooperative in a manner deemed beneficial to the cooperative as a whole; to employing a manager to be responsible for the overall and day-to-day management of the business under the direction of the board; and to effecting other duties as provided by the bylaws or by general/specific corporate laws.
Limits to Authority: Each director recognizes that, except when the board is in formal meeting, his/her authority is equal only to the rights and authority of any individual member of the cooperative and that no individual director may take action on behalf of the cooperative alone unless explicitly delegated that authority by action of the board.
Managerial Authority: The board recognizes the authority of the manager, as provided in the bylaws or as established by general corporate practice, to manage the affairs of the cooperative. The manager shall employ, supervise, and discharge all employees, agents, and laborers and engage in all negotiations and discussions on behalf of the cooperative as necessary and/or directed by the board.
Disagreement: The board agrees that while an individual director may disagree with a policy or action adopted by the majority of the board, she/he should support said policy or action as being the considered judgment of the board. Such an individual director shall have the right and duty to present further evidence and argument to the board for further consideration in a manner consistent with the board’s practices, and the board shall have the duty of reconsidering its actions appropriately.
Confidentiality: The board and each individual director agree that all directors shall use the utmost of professional judgment and discretion in discussing disputed or confidential corporate actions, policies, or issues with Co-op members, employees, or the general public. All personnel, real estate, marketing, legal, strategic planning, and financial matters will be considered sensitive issues subject to director’s good faith and discretion unless or until made specifically clear by action of the board as a whole.
Professional Conduct: At all times directors shall recognize that they project an image as representative of the cooperative and shall conduct themselves in a professional manner which fosters confidence and reflects positively on the cooperative, its members, and its staff. All directors will respect the rights of others—directors, staff, and members—to communicate their ideas free from interruption and without intimidation. All directors shall affirmatively and, at any time, disclose any and all economic conflicts of interest.
Code of Conduct
As a Co-op director, I pledge to do my best for the Marquette Food Co-op and will:
- Devote the time needed to fulfill the responsibilities of the position;
- Attend all regular and special board and committee meetings;
- Be prompt, attentive, and prepared for all board and committee meetings;
- Contribute to and encourage open, respectful, and thorough discussions by the board;
- Attend and actively participate in the board’s training sessions and annual planning retreat to enhance board understanding and cohesiveness;
- Consider the business of the Co-op and its members to be confidential in nature;
- Disclose any personal or organizational conflict of interest that I may have and refrain from discussing or voting on any issues related to the conflict;
- Be honest, helpful, diligent, and respectful in my dealings with the Co-op, other directors, and the Co-op’s management, staff, and members;
- Refrain from becoming financially involved or associated with any business or agency that has interests that are, or could be perceived to be, in conflict with the Co-op’s;
- Work for continued and increased effectiveness in the Co-op’s ability to serve its members/owners;
- Be a team player and agree to abide by the majority action of the board, even if it is not my own personal opinion;
- Present the agreed-upon view of the board of directors, rather than my own, when I speak for the Co-op to employees, members, shoppers, and the general public;
- Refrain from asking for special privileges as a board member and from interfering with management’s authority;
- Work to ensure that the Co-op is controlled in a democratic fashion by its members and that all elections are open, fair, and encourage the participation of all members
- Strive at all times to keep members informed of the Co-op’s status and plans, and of the board’s work, as appropriate;
- Continually seek to learn more about the Co-op and its operations and about my responsibilities as a board member by pursuing educational opportunities.