This spring, Greg Gill became General Manager of Valleyview Consumers Co-op Ltd. when former GM, David Wowk, took a position with Federated Cooperatives Ltd. Gill is a co-op man through and through.
He started his employment with the co-op as a student in 1992 and then topped his work experience with two years of business administration education.
“My background is a little different,” he says. “My dad and my grandfather were both in the co-op system. I always had that in the back of my mind.”
He’s happy with the co-op system. “I would say that our benefits are some of the best in the industry. Our wages are competitive….”
The Gill family, wife Tracy and son Tyson (11), now live in the Virden community where they have some close family connections.
“We knew the community and we knew people here. My wife is from Souris. Her brother is Mark Keown (principal of Virden Collegiate).”
Oddly enough, Gill has worked at another Valleyview location - Valleyview, Alberta (New Horizon Co-op) in 2005. He has changed locations with the co-op system about every five years, having managed another multi-site co-op, Boundary Co-op (Boissevain, Killarney, Deloraine, Waskada and Hartney).
To take on management at Valleyview, Gill gave up a job at Winnipeg Co-op as a retail advisor.
“I’m not a subject matter expert,” he says, adding, “If I am, it’s in food, my background was in food. My previous role was as a retail advisor, so I worked with general managers, CEOs and boards, putting people in touch with the expert advice they need.”
He says Valleyview is a very successful co-op retailer. “We’re budgeting in the $85 million range. I would say that would put us in the top 30 retails in the Co-op Retail System
To balance Valleyview’s bottom line while serving surrounding small communities, Gill considers the big picture and customer loyalty to the Valleyview network of stores. “We do know that, in the Kenton area for example, we do see some bulk petroleum into that area. Some crop protection. We have a full array of products.
“We’ve got to balance that. We’ve got to serve the members in a way that is efficient. It’s not that we’re ever going to make barrel loads of money out of these small stores, but if we can mitigate and keep the loss to a minimum, that’s OK. We can operate with that.”