20+ Years with the Co-op and Still Going Strong!
By Gretchen Hein
Employees are the backbone to any organization. They can take it to new heights, or be part of its demise. New Leaf Market Co-op (NLMC) has been fortunate to have quite a number of dedicated, committed employees that have helped make us one of the best cooperatives in the country. I hit the jackpot when I was asked to highlight two employees who have been with us for over twenty years. Neither one of them had an inkling of what a cooperative was when they came to New Leaf Market Co-op. It didn’t take long before the cooperative business model and culture began to change their worldview and they became important players as we moved forward.
The word “food” was the magnet for one; for the other, it was a much-needed job. Meet Michele Buchanan and Marrian McQueen. Michele came to New Leaf Market Co-op 25 years ago when we were known as the Leon County Food Co-op and located on Gaines Street. Marrian McQueen joined the NLMC workforce shortly after we moved into our current location in 1990.
Michele found her niche in the financial arena. She started as our bookkeeper and became the financial manager with human resources responsibilities. She is now a Senior Professional of Human Resources and handles the human resources responsibilities full-time. Marrian’s path has been very different. During her 23 years she has worked in a number of departments from the deli, to produce, managing the restaurant we started, and is now the Wellness Manager.
Both women speak about how important New Leaf Market Co-op is to them, how it has helped to shape their values over the years, how they have been supported personally and professionally during their time at NLMC. When asked why they choose to stay at New Leaf Market Co-op and not move on, Marrian replied that, “New Leaf Market Co-op is more of a family . . . everyone who shops, who works here . . . we all have the same goal—bettering our lives, our health, our environment.” She wouldn’t work any place else. Michele’s commitment to the Co-op is because, “… (we) exist to serve our owners, we care deeply about our employees and their family and we work diligently to protect our precious resources.” In referring to her 25 years Michele shared, “I couldn’t have asked for a better ride.”
Both have been instrumental in contributing to NLMC’s growth as a strong cooperative business, and in the process, they have been changed in ways that are hard to measure. To say that it’s been a mutually beneficial arrangement would be an understatement. Thanks for all you’ve given, Marrian and Michele, you have made such a big difference!