Leadership Through Community

It has been a very busy few months since I became chair of the California Grocers Association.

Let me start by saying how proud I am to serve this Association in a leadership role. I do not take this position lightly and vow to do my best in representing retailers and suppliers in this industry that we all love.

In my first official duty as Chair last December, I testified in front of the Little Hoover Commission to share the grocery perspective on retail theft on behalf of CGA and its members. Tasked by the Legislature to conduct research and report back with a policy recommendation on retail theft, this was the second in a series of retail theft hearings to help the commission complete its report. This was quite the experience, and I encourage you to watch the segment online if you haven’t already.

Chair of the Commission Pedro Nava stated in one of the hearings that the witness testifying should consider it a compliment if you are interrupted with questions from commissioners. My testimony, which was slated to take 10 minutes tops, ran almost a full hour. Their interest was an indication of the greater momentum around finding a solution to retail theft in the Legislature and Capitol. While I was happy with the level of engagement from commissioners, I was also surprised by the tone of the questions and their expectations. We learned that they are data-starved, and we as an industry need to do a better job in reporting all incidents to law enforcement and tracking the number of incidents occurring in our locations along with the dollar value of each incident.

To help tackle this need, CGA has created a Retail Theft Committee to gather data from members that we can share with the Legislature to demonstrate the severe impacts of retail theft. We’re hopeful that our efforts will lead to some change in legislation to positively help our industry. I look forward to working closely on this issue with CGA and members throughout the year.

In January, I took a break to attend the Independent Operators Symposium on the Big Island in Hawaii. This was such a special time to spend with members of the Association who represent independent stores and family businesses. It was a beautiful setting for the perfect dose of education mixed in with a whole lot of fun.

We had the pleasure of welcoming a warm friend and colleague to the industry for a special session, Leslie Sarasin from FMI. In her session, Leslie discussed state politics and the issues she and her team are battling in Washington on behalf of the industry.

We also heard from Steve Black on the “5 Rules” for Transforming your Culture for Yourself, Your Team, and Your Family. This was my favorite educational session as it provided me with confirmation that you can and should be a kind and compassionate leader while still expecting successful results from your teams. Be sure to read Steve’s leadership piece later in this issue.

Steve brought wristbands for everyone to take back to their teams with the 5 Rules printed on them and I was excited to share them and what I learned during our weekly team meeting.

The wristband is a quick reminder for us to follow the rules:

Do Your Job,
Be Kind,
No Surprises,
No Drama, and Protect The Brand.

As we celebrate industry leadership in this issue and consider what it means to be a leader in grocery, this is sage advice that we can all benefit from.