The Business of Cooperatives

September 15th, 2010

This week we’re examining how businesses can expand and stay strong even in rough economic times through the cooperative model. In time of diminished trust in remote corporate and financial institutions, co-ops provide a model for how to increase the level of trust in every level of business relations. From consumers knowing that their dollars are benefiting local economies to members gaining strength through numbers, we’ll find out ways co-ops can be the most democratic business model around.

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Paul Hazen
President, National Cooperative Business Association
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Members of the NCBA range from large Fortune 500 companies to small consumer food cooperatives located in small towns across the United States. In addition to being President of the NCBA, the only cross-sector member association representing all cooperatives in the US, Paul is on the board of the International Cooperative Alliance.

Tom Knox
Director of Retail Development, ACE Hardware
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Founded in Chicago in 1924, Ace is the largest retailer-owned cooperative in the industry with 4,600 stores in all 50 states and 60 countries generating annual retail sales of more than $13 billion.

Theresa Marquez
Chief Marketing Executive, Organic Valley
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CROPP Cooperative, and its brand, Organic Valley Family of Farms is the largest organic farmers cooperative in the United States, CROPP consists of over 700 small and mid-size family farmers. Theresa Marquez has been involved in food and farming since the mid 1970s, and she joined the Cooperative in 1995 and has helped to grow the business from $5 million to $209 million in 2004.

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