General Manager & Board President Win Cooperative Achievement Award

Earlier this summer, our General Manager Crystal Halvorson and Board President Rick Remington sat down at the Consumer Cooperative Management Association’s annual awards banquet in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. They expected to eat a meal and celebrate the work of others; neither of them knew they were about to jointly win the award for Cooperative Achievement.

Both had been nominated for individual awards: Crystal by Rick, and Rick by staff and board members. The awards committee saw the common themes in each nomination: coming to the aid of a sister co-op during a time of need, strategically approaching the long-term welfare of both co-ops at a time when small grocers are failing against bigger chains, evolving to keep service to our owners at the center of all we do, and the success of the recent merger and exciting plans for future growth in Eau Claire. Crystal and Rick were brave to reach out and share resources with another co-op at the beginning of the pandemic; they put the Co-op Principles to work and cooperated. Through the process, they supported each other with love, humor, and compassion. Their long history of working together helped to set our co-ops up for success, despite all of the challenges.

The CCMA Awards had been suspended during the pandemic so there were more nominees than ever, but the committee saw the value of Crystal’s and Rick’s collaboration. Staff worked to ensure that both would be in attendance and unaware of what was to come. They called this secret plan “Operation Silver Store” in honor of an early, much-loved location of the Menomonie co-op. 

Everyone who works closely with Rick and Crystal was pleased to learn of their honor, which is one of the highest in the retail co-op industry. Watching them operate with experience, care, and poise was a big part of why the Just Local Food Co-op board was able to put so much confidence in the merger; we knew our friends in Menomonie could help us both grow into something bigger and better than either of us had been before. These same traits are also part of the reason the combined board voted to pursue expansion of our Eau Claire location.

My time on the board has shown me how truly important it is to support our local food system. It’s also shown me how supportive our owners and board members are when tough times arise. As my term comes to a close, I’m incredibly thankful to our owners and board members for giving me a seat at the table.

We hope you can help us celebrate our success by attending our Annual Owner Meeting on September 18th. And please consider voting for candidates in the 2022 election. One of them might just be our co-op’s next board leader and award winner!

This article was originally published in the September/October 2022 issue of our bi-monthly newsletter, The Morsel. If you’d like to read more stories like this one and stay up to date on the latest co-op news and events, pick up a print copy in-store on your next grocery run or find more news on our website here.

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