Letter: Food Co-op’s Firing of GM is Davis’ Loss

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Davis-food-coopwritten by Andrew Newman

Letter of Recommendation

In conversations around the Davis Co-op and in online posts, there has been much speculation about the reason for the board’s decision to fire the General Manager, Eric Stromberg.

It strikes me that we should take the board at their word. “The Board of directors decided to exercise an option under the general manager contract for separation without cause.”

The board now intends to create a subcommittee, led by Stacie Frerichs, president of the board and with no other qualifications in this area, to embark on a nationwide search for a new general manager. They expect the search to take six months.

I hope that during their search they consider the recommendation of this person, who just coincidentally was let go from his job at a co-op of almost exactly the same size (I don’t know for sure). I am not sure he wants the job, so I will call him Lucas.

To whom it may concern;

Lucas has been the general manager of our Co-op for 14 years. Prior to his being recruited to our city, he worked in Portland and Santa Fe. In all, Lucas has more than 30 years of Co-op experience.

During his tenure at our co-op, we have seen improvements in absolutely every area. Under Lucas’s leadership we have accomplished all of the following:

• We have led the region in energy efficiency. Our store installed solar electric panels long before other businesses embraced this technology

• We have undergone a massive renovation, keeping our store relevant and interesting to not only our members but to other shoppers as well

• We have maintained and continuously improved our IT infrastructure to ensure the safety of our member date

• We have fostered relationships with local growers and vendors that are the envy of the industry allowing us to remain competitive in the current environment

• We have created a teaching kitchen which has been a huge success with members and the community as well

• We have been a leading contributor and collaborator in the community

• We have not had to lay off large amounts of staff even though we have just gone through the largest recession in our country’s history and the opening of two major supermarkets less than a half mile from our location.

• We continue to innovate and look forward to the upcoming opening of our beer and wine terrace this spring

Be confident that Lucas will not only work at your store. He will advocate for you, your workers and your community. Lucas is soft-spoken, open, friendly and approachable. He will follow your by-laws and policies.

Sincerely

Davis’ Loss

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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11 thoughts on “Letter: Food Co-op’s Firing of GM is Davis’ Loss”

  1. Biddlin

    An interesting, if too oblique (for my simple mind), missive. I write technical and historical articles about the guitar industry. Gibson, a notoriously private corporation, makes it easier to find personnel and management information than these coops. I have been to The Peoples’ coop in Portland. Overpriced and rude were the impressions I left with. Davis’ coop, while pricey, has a much more convivial atmosphere and staff.

    1. Day Man

      Well, I have to disagree even though I’m on your “side.” As a Co-op member, I want to know. But the people don’t have a fundamental “right” to know- nothing ever granted them that right. And since it’s not a governmental entity, I don’t think “the people” (broadly defined) have anything to do with this. It’s about the Co-op members. So I would offer a different statement: “The Co-op members should be told why he was fired.” Weaker, yes, but more accurate. Why should they be told? Because it’s about maintaining community trust in an organization that purports to be all about community. This erodes the trust and hurts everyone.

      But there’s no fundamental “right” at play.

      1. Angry Tomato

        I’m fairly sure that at this point no one but the Board and possibly Beth Tausczik know why Eric was fired.

        Now that the Board has effectively beheaded the Co-Op, we are stuck in the biggest quagmire in years. This literally could not have come at a worse time.

        1. wdf1

          Angry Tomato: Now that the Board has effectively beheaded the Co-Op, we are stuck in the biggest quagmire in years. This literally could not have come at a worse time.

          Why is that?

          1. Angry Tomato

            We’ve had a wage freeze for 3 years now, and it has caused worker morale to reach an all-time low. Eric opened up the discussion of raises literally 2 days before he was fired. Now the topic is effectively off the table for the next 6 months while they find a new GM, as Beth Tausczik refuses to address any new articles while she is interim-GM.

            On top of this, our sales are noticeably down — most likely as a result of all this negative press. Customers ask me every day “What’s going on?” It’s on everyone’s minds and it’s affecting the store drastically.

            For being so passionate about the supposed “new direction” they keep talking about, the Board has made some pretty poor business decisions in the last two weeks.

    2. Biddlin

      Why? What standing do “the people” have in this matter?
      If I were part of the coop, then I might assert a right to know, on my own behalf, but I see no reason that the public at large has any right to know.

    1. outtadavis

      I haven’t heard anything about what is going on at the Co-op now. I have looked at the minutes for the last couple of meetings and it sounds pretty worrisome. Although there is not very much information. Is there anyway to get an update?

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