From Just Food’s Board of Directors:
News travels fast in a small town like Northfield, so many of you may already have heard that Pat Neily, Just Food’s General Manager, is leaving. If you haven’t heard, then we’re sorry to be the bearer of that news. Pat’s last day will be Friday, January 22.
Pat and his family moved here from Enfield, New Hampshire – where they had lived all of their lives – in October 2012, after Pat was hired as Just Food’s General Manager. Now, due to difficult family circumstances, they feel they need to move back to New Hampshire to be closer to family and friends. While the Board understands their need, we are disappointed to lose Pat’s leadership.
Pat has accomplished so much in three short years. He has helped the store grow from $5 million in sales in 2012 to $6.2 million in 2015. Just Food is now free of long-term debt, which still totaled more than $129,000 when Pat arrived. We had about 2,300 owners in 2012 and now have more than 2,900 owners.
Pat has increased the staff pay scale, furthering the goal of paying employees a decent wage. We now have no full-time staff making less than the Rice County Living Wage for a single, full-time employee, which is about $1.31 above Minnesota’s minimum wage. The staff has grown from 48 to 59 employees, and a high percentage of employees are now eligible for benefits.
Pat has prepared the way for expansion, working with NCG Development Co+operative (DC) to evaluate our management and staffing and align it with the needs of the future larger store. He acquired additional space in our current building in anticipation of our impending growth. The store is in a great financial position to proceed. The course is set, the DC is ready to become more engaged, and we are poised to move forward.
Just Food has also become more involved in the community, donating over $7,000 in 2015 to nonprofit organizations, including the Community Action Center’s Food Shelf and the Northfield Area Family YMCA.
Through the Round Up and Planet Patch programs, our owners were empowered to contribute over $10,000 in 2015 to nonprofit Community Partners. Just Food has also supported many activities through advertising or in-kind donations, including Northfield Public Schools’ after-school PLUS program, the Eat Local Farm Tour, Greenvale Park Health Fair, Northfield Healthy Community Initiative’s Growing Up Healthy, a CSA Day to promote our local farmers, and others.
Pat’s tenure at Just Food could be easily summarized with the motto seen on t-shirts staff wear around the store: Sell More Good Food, Create More Good Jobs, and Do More Good in the Community. In all regards, Pat was dedicated to our Co-op and the Northfield community it serves. We will miss his leadership, creativity, and energy in making Northfield a healthier place to live. When you have a chance, please wish Pat well as he enters this next phase of his life.
Over the next several months, the Board will be searching for Pat’s replacement as General Manager. We will be fortunate to find another candidate of Pat’s caliber to bring our Co-op to the next level.