The president of the Humboldt Co-operative Association Limited (the Co-op) reported a year of excellent growth in 2011 at its annual meeting, May 1.
It was a year of retrospect for the local association that celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2011, and board president Rick Merkosky highlighted some of the events of the year to the 140 or so members who attended the dinner and meeting at the Humboldt Legion hall.
“Our co-op’s 75th anniversary was a focal point during the year,” Merkosky said. “Daily activities, events, community partnerships and a major consumer draw all centered on this milestone in the Co-op’s history.”
In 2011, he said the Humboldt Co-op had looked at the past with an exhibit of its history at the Humboldt and District Museum and Gallery. Merkosky said 2012 would be a year of looking toward the future, with completion of the first full year of operation of the Lanigan Food Store and plans underway for the new food store in Humboldt plus an expansion to the Lanigan Cardlock.
The annual meeting included reports given by Federated delegate Chris Weiss, store manager Phil Griffeth, and an additional report given by Federated Co-op director Beryl Bauer.
In his report, Bauer spoke about the many advantages of having a co-op in the community, and of the impressive financial status of all Federated Co-ops in the Western Canadian structure.
“When you hear about savings of $839 million and $537 million coming back,” Bauer told the members, “what that means is that money stays in the local communities. It doesn’t go off to some corporate head office, it comes back to you members and to your co-op to help build, expand, and grow, and that’s the remarkable thing about co-ops.”
Provincially, Bauer said cash-back deliveries in the last five years alone have exceeded $287 million, and the total capital invested in Saskatchewan is over $227 million.
“So co-op has certainly helped the province grow,” he added.
Since the subject of growth kept cropping up in all the reports, it was only a matter of time before questions or concerns about the new food store project in Humboldt’s Westwood Centre should arise during the question and answer period.
Some of the questions members asked were “what will become of the old food store when the new food store opens,” “why are food prices higher at the Co-op than in other stores in town,” and “will the C-store and gas bar remain open in its current location.”
Griffeth explained that the Humboldt Co-op’s current food store building on Main St. in Humboldt is being appraised, and the board will take a look at it, but the general plan is to sell the building.
In addressing the question of food costs, the manager strived to point out that it is impossible to compete with prices on every item in every store in town.
“We need to compete,” was Griffeth’s reply. “We need to compete with a new facility. We’re building a new food store that costs $7.5 million, and we have to pay for the new store. We have a lot of customers that like to shop in the food store, and who want a new food store, and that all takes money.”
With regard to the C-store and gas bar, Griffeth said the new food store is the first priority in the building project, and that the C-store and gas bar will remain in its current location on Hwy. 5 east in Humboldt..
“The current C-store has an excellent location,” said Griffeth. “There is a higher traffic count in front of that convenience store right now than there is on the other side of the highway. About 3,900 cars per day go by that highway, so the plan is that it will continue there.”
Griffeth explained that at the Westwood development, the Co-op has secured two pieces of land for its new project, located one behind the other. The one that is right on the highway (beside the Canalta Hotel) is for the future convenience store/gas bar.
“We’re not going to see that for a little while,” he confirmed, “but the food store, obviously, you’ll see that start to happen soon.”
The rest of the meeting dealt with an election of directors to the board and the annual employee Service Awards.
Three positions on the nine-member board were up for renewal this year, and the members who attended the meeting elected Mervin Ford, Scott Gehlen, and George Hinz for 2012.
The final business on the agenda for the annual meeting was the Co-op Service Awards. Every year, employees who reach certain milestones, such as five or 10 years or more, are acknowledged and receive a gift from the Co-op.