UFA in effort to refine its goals and operations

On the eve of their second annual “Get ‘n Give” competition, the new CEO of United Farmers of Alberta cooperative

Peter Melnychuk

Peter Melnychuk

On the eve of their second annual “Get ‘n Give” competition, the new CEO of United Farmers of Alberta cooperative has promised a more member- and farmer-focused operational strategy, one that will be designed to prioritize the needs of agriculture sector above other business objectives.

Peter Melnychuk, who six weeks ago took over as the new chief executive officer of the 55,000-member cooperative, spoke in an interview at one of his stops as he continued his tour of farmer communities of the province in an effort to take the pulse of the membership as to what they expect the cooperative to do better and how.

Keeping his cards close to his chest, Melnychuk did not give many details of a new strategy that he said he was consulting on with the board members, but he did say they would come up with a new vision for the cooperative and its businesses following focus group discussions that are scheduled to continue through the fall.

Focus group discussions will be managed and conducted by a third party consultancy specializing in agricultural industry hired by the cooperative and will involve discussions not only with members, but also customers and delegates.

Once the feedback from these focus groups are gathered, it will be assessed in comparison to the new strategy being planned by the new management before the strategy is finally validated and announced.

“One thing I can say is that our corporate strategy will be aligned to the strengths of UFA, those strengths being our network, our brand, focusing on why we exist will be a big part of that (new strategy),” Melnychuk said.

Tacitly admitting that organization is in need of refocusing its operations, Melnychuk said: In many ways, we lost our way, we lost our identity a little bit, we need to reestablish that, we need to reconnect with our members, provide the services and the products they expect while at same defining what that means.”

“We can’t be all things to all people,” he stressed.

The new CEO made clear that he was aware of the need to connect with more members and streamline the orientation of the cooperative with the perceptions and expectations of the members and to be able to manage that, he said they would need to improve the communication.

“It is more of a refining rather than redefining our orientation, why we exist,” Melnychuk said, indicating that ag-related and petroleum-related business operations would be getting more priority over other activities such as construction.

Returning to the “Get ‘n Give” competition, Melnychuk said they were looking forward to receiving more high quality applications from communities throughout the province.

The competition is for projects to be submitted by community organizations in order to contribute to revive, strengthen or create community functions that will make life better for rural communities.

Under the rules of the competition, UFA allocates funding for five projects, $50,000 for each, and the cooperative selects only the first project, and then the selected project judges the submissions and selects the second winner and the second winner selects the third…

Applications for the 2014-2015 competition will be accepted beginning Sept. 1.

More information on how to apply and last year’s winners can be found at http://www.getngiveufa.com