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One of my favorite Winston Churchill quotes is "Some see private enterprise as a predatory target to be shot, others as a cow to be milked, but few are those who see it as a sturdy horse pulling the wagon." When I think of Market Basket, it's the sturdy horse pulling a wagon loaded with food at great prices. My favorite quote from Winston is at the end of this article.
Sometimes there is a lot more to things than meets the eye. Below is the statement from the Board of Directors of Demoulas Super Markets, followed by a line by line interpretation of what it might be saying. Statements such as these aren’t just written up by the person taking the minutes at the meeting. Each word, sentence, and paragraph is weighed to deliver the message intended. Here is what I believe they are saying, and what it means.
• 2009: Outsourced distribution for a privately owned company in NYC—improved service levels while reducing expenses by $1.4MM annually.
• 1998: Project Leader for the move of book distribution for Little, Brown and Company, Disney Press, Hyperion, Atlantic Monthly Press, Sunset Books, Warner Books, and Oxmoor House from Massachusetts to the new 900,000 sq. ft. Time Warner Publishing Facility in Lebanon Indiana.
• 2001 -2004: Streamlined and automated distribution operations for numerous mid-sized business acquired by an educational publishing company—including EDI, Chelsea House, Sundance, Newbridge
• Negotiated aggressive truck and small package carrier discounts for Haights Cross Communications, saving close to $1MM annually. Discounts exceed 52% for small package and 84% for truck.
• 2010 – 2013: Restructured IT function for NYC based book publisher, reducing staff by 33% while improving service dramatically.
• 2010 – 2013: Researched and installed ERP, CRM, CMS, e-commerce, and workflow systems for NYC based publishing company.
Brent MacAloney, a member of the Westminster Fire Department for 46 years and our Fire Chief for the last 15 years, is retiring on January 3. William “Bill” MacAloney, Brent’s father, also a Fire Chief in Westminster, retired in 1989, so in some ways this retirement marks the end of an era for Westminster and the Fire Department— but in reality we are “mid-era”. The previous era ended fifteen years ago, when Brent became Fire Chief, and we’re in the midst of the new era now. Over the last fifteen years, the fire department has probably seen more changes than there were in the prior 250 years. These changes, and this new era, will continue long after Brent’s retirement.
The Fire Department is much like the Police Department, and these two departments work closely together. Often times in this story I’ll refer to the Fire Department, but that doesn’t mean the police weren’t involved. They are both “public safety”, and these departments, traditionally strongly supported by Westminster voters, are one of the major forces making and keeping Westminster the type of town it is today—low crime, responsive local government, good schools, and higher property values than most surrounding communities. There is a lot to be thankful for, but nevertheless you also hear a lot of grousing—how come we have a fire truck with a ladder that extends 7 stories? Not too many skyscrapers in Westminster. Why is the department so much bigger now? Why are the costs up so much? Brent and I talked for over an hour in his office. I envisioned just reminiscing about his 46 years in the department, and we did do that to some degree, but there was also a lot of talk about the department itself, and how it’s changed and improved, and you could see in Brent’s eyes how satisfied he is with some of the things he’s accomplished, particularly the ambulance service.
Update: Arthur T. Demoulas and his side of the family have made an offer to purchase the 50.5% of the stock held by his relatives who ousted him. There is an informative article on this in 7/24/14 Boston Globe, and terms (the purchase price offered) were not disclosed. Here are a few thoughts and opinions on this development:
• It’s a brilliant strategic move to solve the long term situation, because even if Arthur T. does come back, but without making this purchase, it’s just back to the status quo, with him as CEO but the opposing side of the family controlling a majority of the voting stock and the Board. There could then be a ‘next time’, and this time the other side will be more prepared and strategic. This purchase would allow the preservation of the Market Basket business model to continue after his retirement, and prevent his return as CEO from being just a tactical retreat by the Board of Directors.