2018 Board Candidates

Be sure to vote for two new board candidates by Thursday, Oct. 25 (the day of our annual owner meeting).

Meet the 2018 Board Candidates

Trace Krueger

Owner Since 2011

Savage, MN

International Freight Forwarder

Why are you interested in serving on Valley Natural Foods’ board?
I’m interested in serving on the Valley Natural Foods board because the cooperative provides me access to the food and wellness products I need to support my nutritional program, and I wish to offer my support and time. The community centric mission and support of local, small operation agriculture aligns with my values. I actively participate in all owner surveys as one method to support and guide the board, and I’m offering to contribute more.

What do you believe are two of the most important issues facing Valley Natural Foods over the next five years?
The foremost issue facing Valley Natural Foods is to be certain our mission of supporting local agriculture, as well as the community, is seen as the key market differentiator from other stores offering organic products.

The second issue is how to best promote the new features of the store expansion to further express our mission and values.

Please summarize the skills and experience you bring, and the contributions you hope to make, as a Valley Natural Foods board member.
I worked for Procter & Gamble for two years on the local sales and merchandising team. This was specific to P&G soap products, working with the grocery managers to promote the store presence of the P&G product line. My academic coursework was also geared to consumer marketing practices. My hope is this background and any transferable skills in my current profession will help the cooperative remain financially sound and range its long-range goals.

Gary Sankary

Incumbent Board Director

Owner Since 2007

Apple Valley, MN

Director of Retail Industry Solutions for ESRI

Why are you interested in serving on Valley Natural Foods’ board?
My retail career started in my father’s local business when I was 10. Since that time I’ve had the opportunity to work with small retailers all the way up to the largest retailer companies in the World. From this experience I strongly believe that locally owned and operated business are one of the foundations of healthy, sustainable communities. Valley Natural Foods represents the best of community-based business because the coop ownership model enables members of the community to actively participate and engage in the in direction and mission of the organization. This is what attracted me to becoming a member many years ago and it’s why I continue to shop at Valley.

In May I was graciously asked by the board to fill in for a vacancy. In my short tenure I’ve come to appreciate the challenges faced by the organization as well as to better understand a bit how strong leadership has made this organization successful. The retail industry in a bit of a disruption. New competition and market pressures are changing the way customers interact with retailers. In my professional role I have the opportunity to work with many retailers around the world to use tools and data to mitigate the impact of this disruption. I feel strongly that I have a great deal to offer from my own experience and I’ve enjoyed working with the board and wish to continue to do so.

What do you believe are two of the most important issues facing Valley Natural Foods over the next five years?
The number one issue that I see for our coop is to return the business to positive sales growth. Our market has changed and our sales have been impacted. New competitors have entered the market which has changed how our customers shop. We have also seen shifting demographics in Dakota county, this is something we need to understand and accommodate in our merchandising and marketing strategies. I strongly believe we are taking the right steps by expanding the building. This will give the coop the opportunity to expand our best preforming businesses and create a more compelling space for our customers. We have to continue to do more.

I love what Valley does in the community to support healthy lifestyles and provide products that help our owners and customers live their values. But to continue to do this we have to be successful and as a retailer, success is measured by growth. We’ve had some challenging years recently, I want see the coop return to sustained growth.

The other issue that I think we need to focus on, and this goes hand in hand with the previous, is growing our customer base, both owner and non-owner customers. We have already implemented new engagement tactics; our community dinner and our farm tours for example. We need to continue to do more to keep our current market share while attracting new families to Valley. This is exactly how we will defuse the impact of our competition in our market.

Please summarize the skills and experience you bring, and the contributions you hope to make, as a Valley Natural Foods board member.
I have over 40 years of experience in the retail industry. From stocking my Dad’s when I was a kid, to developing and implementing merchandising strategies for Target to my current role helping retailers use geographic data to better understand their stores and their markets. I have a strong understanding of retail analysis, many of the challenges I’ve been exposed too in my short time on the board are exactly the sorts of issues I help my current clients with and are issues I worked on with Target.

Some of the areas of focus I have in my background are:

Merchandising and assortment planning: What are the right products for a store?

Store Space Planning: Working with store planograms (where to put specific products to maximize turnover and sales) and store category plans to optimize shopping experience and store operations.

Market Analysis: Leveraging tools to better understand the market we operate in- competitive analysis, customer analysis, marketing opportunities and market penetration.

In addition to these I’ve also spent many years in front line store operations, from staffing to stocking and have a good understanding of how a successful store operates.

DeAnne Shea

Incumbent Board Director

Owner since 2003

Prior Lake, MN

Volunteer and serve on several ministries and organizations within my church and community

Why are you interested in serving on Valley Natural Foods’ board?
As the end of my first term on the board approaches, I continue to be excited for the future of VNF. I’m grateful for the opportunity I’ve had to learn, serve and represent the member owners, and I would like to continue to serve. I’m excited to see VNF thru the current expansion project and continue to plan for the future. Ensuring the financial stability of VNF, while strategically planning for short and long-term growth and investment strategies is a top priority. I believe in the cooperative model that VNF has been built on; where partnerships and relationships with farmers, shoppers and the community are honored and nurtured. VNF is a place where shoppers are welcomed and encouraged to gather, learn and grow. Shoppers have access to trusted local, organic and sustainable products and services. I want to ensure that VNF continues to operate on these cooperative values for many generations to come.

What do you believe are two of the most important issues facing Valley Natural Foods over the next five years?
I believe that the two most important issues facing VNF over the next 5 years are competition and ensuring our commitment to our cooperative model and mission while educating our shoppers and telling our story. Competition and changing shopping patterns are a reality that VNF and the board have been facing and strategically planning for and must continue to do so. With the influx of grocery stores in the south metro area and broader twin cities, as well as the continuing surge of online shopping, VNF will have to continue to look for strategies to stay ahead of the competition and differentiate ourselves.

In my opinion, VNF’s greatest strength is our cooperative model and our personal relationships with farmers, our community and our member owners and shoppers. This is what differentiates us from the competition. VNF must stay aligned to its mission and cooperative values. We need to continue educating our shoppers and member owners about our cooperative differences and strengths and continue sharing our story of what it means to be a cooperative. It is our strength as a member owned cooperative and staying true to our mission and values that will help us thru the competition.

Please summarize the skills and experience you bring, and the contributions you hope to make, as a Valley Natural Foods board member.
Having served one term on the board, I have gained the experience and understanding of how the board processes operate using the policy governance model. I have several years of management purchasing and contracts experience as well as teaching experience. I have served in leadership roles on a variety of committees. I enjoy volunteering and giving back to the community. I consider myself to be dedicated, trust worthy, team oriented and engaged. I’m connected and involved within the community. As a 15-year member of VNF, I’m committed to the success of VNF and support the mission and cooperative values of VNF. I believe in the importance of educating future generations. One of the contributions I hope to make is to seek more ways to engage the shoppers and member-owners.

Amy Simpson

Owner Since 2013

Apple Valley, MN

Chief of Staff, Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota

Why are you interested in serving on Valley Natural Foods’ board?
Joining Valley Natural Foods 5 years ago was a lifestyle game-changer. I switched to eating local and organic foods, participated in Community Supported Agriculture, attended food classes, and become conscientious about the local area in which I live. Serving on the board would allow me to show my appreciation for my healthier lifestyle and give back to the community. Secondly, I support the expansion efforts of Valley Natural Foods and want to contribute my time and skills to the success of the expansion.

What do you believe are two of the most important issues facing Valley Natural Foods over the next five years?
The building expansion brings exciting opportunities for Valley Natural Foods and this large undertaking shows the co-op’s commitment to serving the local community. The southern suburbs are rapidly expanding and Valley Natural needs to position itself to serve a larger number of people wanting local and organic food. With suburban growth comes competition. Valley Natural will need to make sure prices are in line with competitors and provide an experience for shoppers they cannot find elsewhere. Secondly, technology is rapidly changing retail. Valley Natural will need to decide how it will address changes in grocery experiences such as food delivery, rapid pick-up, and offering prepared meals. Clearly defining and following the mission (who are we and what do we do well?) needs to be a priority in order to keep members committed and attract new members to join a truly exceptional community and shopping experience.

Please summarize the skills and experience you bring, and the contributions you hope to make, as a Valley Natural Foods board member.
Serving on the board will allow me to utilize the leadership skills I have gained from my experience overseeing the daily operations of a large department at the University of Minnesota. I am particularly skilled in budget oversight and cost reductions, resulting in yearly positive balances that make possible new programming and initiatives. Equally important, I am highly skilled in organizational development and successfully restructured the department’s administrative function, which resulted in improved efficiencies and increased employee morale by addressing workload inequities. On a personal note, I am a very easygoing individual and enjoy meeting new people and finding the positive in everything I do.