CreekSide Co-op announced yesterday the hiring of a new general manager, Duncan MacGilvray of Blue Bell. MacGilvray brings an extensive background in the food services industry, most recently at the Food Bank of South Jersey, where he was director of operations and responsible for management of the 65,000 square foot food distribution center and its staff of 45.
Board President Jeff Rotter said he was excited about CreekSide’s new GM. “He has strong leadership skills and knows what he’s coming into in terms of where we stand and where we need to go. And he’s looking forward to the challenge,” noted Rotter.
MacGilvray, who is married and has a son, will start work on Nov. 30. He becomes CreekSide’s fifth GM (including interims) since the store opened in late 2012. He has also run his own business and worked for Aramark in food services.
Uplift, the nonprofit consulting firm working with CreekSide to upgrade store performance, assisted in writing the GM job description and in screening the applicant pool. More than 10 candidates were contacted for preliminary phone interviews, said Rotter, before the group was whittled down further to qualify for personal interviews. A committee of board members, co-op members and staff – the latter selected by a staff vote – did most of the interviewing.
The hiring of the new GM is an important element of the strategic to-do list on which the co-op has been focused over the last few months. The list also includes debt restructuring and raising sufficient member equity ($41,000) for closing on the new financing as well as doing a “reset” or reorganization of the store space and improvements to the product mix on the shelves plus fielding qualified candidates for the upcoming board election, all of which were accomplished, said Rotter. The last major piece on the CreekSide agenda which remains fully outstanding is its request for a business loan from Montgomery County for up to $250,000 covering building improvements, new equipment and reducing accounts payable plus working capital. A decision is expected before the end of the year.
The member equity campaign with a final goal of raising $100,000, was de-emphasized while other pieces were put in place to demonstrate tangible progress before going back to members requesting further support, according to the board president.
There have been some big changes in the store shopping experience with greater variety at the hot bar, including more soups, better prepared foods and more protein options at the hot bar and chef’s (refrigerator) case. “Our shelves are fuller, we’ve brought back health and beauty products and our displays are more organized, noted Rotter.
Rotter and the board expect a boost in sales from the changes, but probably not before marketing and promotion and the overall message picks up steam. “Now that we’ve announced a new GM and we’re excited about his leadership skills and we have a great slate of board candidates, I think now the next 45 days are about messaging around that and how the store has changed. ‘Come back and revisit us. And if you haven’t tried our prepared foods lately, you haven’t tried them at all.’ That’s kind of what’s next,” explained Rotter, obviously getting into the swing of the next campaign.
Plus, CreekSide’s work in community engagement, with the help of Uplift, has already accelerated with outreach to Little League, soccer leagues and attending community events such as the recent Candidates Forum at Curtis Hall.
You can find out more about the board candidates by attending a meet-the-candidate event on Wednesday, Nov. 11 at 7 p.m. at the co-op and on Monday, Nov. 16 at 7 p.m. at the Elkins Park Train Station Community Room. Board candidate profiles will be up on CreekSide’s website this week. Voting opens in the store and online on Nov. 16 and closes Dec. 6. There are 11 candidates for eight open seats.