2019 Board Candidate: Bob Gibson

Occupation

Renewable energy and 'utility of the future' consultant

Community Involvement

Membership Committee, TPSS Food Co-op (current)
Meals on Wheels volunteer (current)
Coordinate Reel Mowers troupe in TP 4th of July parade (current)
Former member of the TP Committee on the Environment
Former Board member, current active supporter, Chesapeake Climate Action Network

Education

B.A. Kenyon College 1975

Why are you interested in serving on the Board?

I have a passion for and a strong belief in the cooperative form of business. I also believe that it is important to go the extra mile to support local businesses, particularly locally owned enterprises, as a way of developing and maintaining strong and healthy communities. I know that a cooperative depends upon the active support and involvement of its members, and I would be honored to share my experience with other cooperative businesses through service on the TPSS Board.

What experience or involvement have you had with the TPSS Food Co-op or other cooperative enterprises or Boards of Directors?

I have been a member of the TPSS Food Co-op Membership Committee for the past 10 months. In this capacity I have contributed to the TPSS Blog, have worked on community outreach and helped plan events such as the Thursdays at the Co-op and member meetings.I served on the inaugural Board of Directors of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (2002-2005).I have done my banking through a credit union since 1982.I have worked closely with electric cooperative utilities since 1981. Through my work with electric co-ops I have had close contact with other cooperative businesses, in particular farm and producer co--ops and credit unions. My work has given me the opportunity to observe what it takes to make a cooperative business successful - as well as to learn lessons from cooperatives that at times have failed to live up to their potential.

What skills, qualities, formal training, education, or professional or volunteer experience would you bring that directly contribute to the mission of the TPSS Food Co-op?

Building on the information shared above, much of my work with other types of co-ops has centered around innovative ways of engaging with members, both in introducing new products and services as well as in simply helping cooperatives survive and thrive. This has included deep dives into the methodology behind understanding the needs, motivations and expectations of cooperative members. This knowledge helps define the tactics and strategies the cooperative can take to increase its relevance to its membership and to the community at large. I believe that there is an opportunity at TPSS to help members and non-members find greater tangible value from and emotional connection with our business. In the highly competitive retail grocery market of our area, I believe that building strong bonds with our members and community is essential for our continued success.

What is your favorite Co-operative Principle and why?

In addressing the previous questions, I have touched particularly on the importance of the principles of 'education, training and information', as well as on 'concern for community'. But my favorite principle remains 'cooperation among cooperatives.' With electric and energy cooperatives, I have seen the critical value of leveraging 'strength through numbers'. By cooperating with other cooperatives on everything from purchasing resources and equipment, sharing human resources, lobbying, financing and peer-to-peer information exchange, these smaller, locally based businesses were able to succeed in the face of competition from corporations with much deeper pockets.

Is there anything else you’d like to share or address?

For more on my views on what makes the TPSS Food Co-op unique, please see my blog "We're For Service, Not For Profit" in the TPSS Co-op Column.