1610 Lobby Project

As our Traverse City teams settle into 1610 Barlow, there have been notable problems with the visitor “lobby” and check-in process for guests to access our offices. Earlier this summer, Bill Palladino from Taste the Local Difference approached us to discuss the problems created by the poorly designed 1610 Barlow lobby. Our lobby contains little signage to direct building visitors, the entry way feels more like a passthrough, and a series of glass walls pulls guests’ eyes into the warehouse, often causing them to miss the sign-in table for Cherry Capital Foods and Tamarack Holdings. It’s almost impossible for us to monitor this situation, since it largely stays out of sight and out of mind. This creates confusion and frustration for those involved in the check-in process and ultimately reflects poorly on all of the businesses located here.

We currently use a phone tree system that rings to Patty Sherman, and then to every Department Head’s phone. Once someone answers, they become responsible for welcoming each guest. However, there have been dozens of instances where a guest pushes the button, it rings through the phone tree, and no one answers. In these instances, guests are ultimately sent to voicemail, which leaves them stranded in the lobby, listening to an automated message, coming from a box that provides no other way to contact the person they are here to visit. At this point, if someone from Taste the Local Difference is in the vicinity, they will offer to help the guest find his or her way into the our offices.

Once the guest and greeter make it into the offices, the greeter becomes responsible for finding who the guest is meeting and where to take them. At this point, in a best case scenario:

  • The greeter knows the CCF/TH team member and knows where to find them.
  • The  team member is at their desk.
  • The meeting is on their Google Calendar with a room reserved.
  • The  team member is ready for their guest to arrive.

However, most of the time we are not operating in a best case scenario. There is no guarantee that the team member will be at their desk and, as many guests come a few minutes early for scheduled meetings, the  team member isn’t always prepared to meet them. Worse still, the conference room may be occupied by a meeting about to end, so where does the guest go and how can they be reassured that we are competent and have an organized check in process?

Hilary Gessner, Erin O’Malley, and I worked together to meet with various teams, observe the situation, and develop a proposal to make significant improvements to the lobby. Our plan centers around the idea that 1610 Barlow becomes a brand of its own, giving it a distinct image separate from the businesses within the building, but pulling from each anchor tenant’s brand. This change will help define the space, allow tenants and visitors to move through the building more easily, and give us the opportunity to continue building on the 1610 brand as the businesses inside grow and change. Our vision is for 1610 Barlow to become a destination for businesses and visitors who seek to positively impact northwest Michigan’s food system, and our community at large, through creative thinking and innovation.

In the following weeks you will see the addition of a bike rack, a bench for guests to wait on, an electronic sign-in system that will ping the person each guest is here to visit, improved signage to direct visitors to various suites within the building, frosted glass to define spaces and graphics that will reflect our passion for food. We plan to evaluate these changes as they are implemented and will solicit feedback from the teams in 1610 Barlow but welcome your comments at any time!

- Colleen Valko, Strategy Manager

CCF Strategy

This year Cherry Capital Foods developed their first strategic plan,  which they plan to follow through 2018. This plan lays the foundation for future rational growth. With input from everyone in the organization, and concentrated brain power from the department head team, we answered why we are here, what we’re doing, what we’re not going to do, where we are going, and how we are going to get there. Future success demands a combination of flexibility and focus. We remain fully committed to our growth orientation and our cultural emphasis on supporting the local food movement, and we must shift our strategy in order to achieve this result.

Last month, the Cherry Capital team launched into the actions laid out in the Strategic Plan. Our first project centers around the customer experience, targeting our optimal customer base and from there begin the reevaluation of our product mix to ensure it is serving both our customers and vendors. During both of these projects, we’ll focus on team member engagement across the company.

Ultimately, it is people who drive any business forward. The Cherry Capital team is full of intelligent people with a variety of skillsets whose knowledge has not been tapped often enough. We’ve set a high goal of 10 hours of training each quarter for everyone on the team, so we can continue to build our skills, and encourage everyone to learn from each other. Finally, we’ll have a focus (remember, we’re doing a lot of refocusing) on operational excellence, which will allow us to chart a path towards financial and operational success for the company.

Each month, we will hold an optional meeting for any Cherry Capital team member to attend who is interested in the progress on our initiatives and the overall plan. Last month we held a roundtable discussion after the plan was shared. These meetings will be similar but more structured, so please keep your eyes open for more information. The Strategic Planning team will hold weekly, monthly, and biannual reviews of the strategy, each with varying scopes. Keep in mind, a strategy defines our path moving forward, but it is a living document, as our markets are always changing. Your insights are always welcome.

- Colleen Valko, Strategy Manager     

Safety Net - New IT Support

As of August 1, 2016, Safety Net is partnering with our teams to provide support and security monitoring of our technology infrastructure.  Safety Net brings with them expertise and a staff of over 20 people to empower our team with functioning technology infrastructure and education on how to best protect our company from security vulnerabilities.  As our organization has grown and matured, so too has our need for a larger IT staff to support our needs and to incorporate best practices into our IT procedures.  IT touches every part of the employee lifecycle from the time that they start their position to the day they move on, so providing each of our employees with the best possible service for all of their technology needs is paramount to their overall effectiveness.

Safety Net is local to Traverse City and was founded over 10 years ago to help support the small to midsize company.  They are experts in Information Security practices and IT administration and support.  In addition to the day-to-day support, they will also be working with Colleen Maguire in a fraction CIO role to help shape our strategy for the future support of our companies.

Sol Orlowski will be on-site from time to time as a partner to better our current infrastructure and address concerns as they come up.  If you are experiencing any technology issues, call Safety Net support at 231-944-1100

- Colleen Maguire, Director of Technology

New Tamarack Website

When Tamarack first started, a website for the company was a project deemed unnecessary. What do we have to say to the world when our focus is serving our operating companies? While we have goals and guiding principles, does the public need to know what those are? After the team came together, it quickly became apparent that Tamarack needed some sort of a web presence. We wanted a way for people to learn about us and the work we were doing, and to promote ourselves as a premier employer in the community. Most importantly, we needed to represent ourselves in a thoughtful way to our operating companies, and communicate the message of “why” the work we’re doing is important.

We began with a Tamarack team meeting, which allowed us to uncover our objectives for the site. We came up with a concise, straightforward, bulleted list of what we do and who we are. Operating companies have their own page with a short description and a link to their sites to learn more. Fun bios of each of the team members. We picked Squarespace as a CMS and template because it was affordable, easy to use and update, and fit the simple and straightforward request from the team.

The creative direction evolved a bit from conception to completion, but I believe what emerged fits the Tamarack culture nicely. One color, hand drawn logos all have a similar feel, and communicate that we are a “family of companies”. The hand drawn graphics seen elsewhere also give the site a playful feel that communicates to visitors that we’re a team that doesn’t take ourselves too seriously, even though we feel the work we do is pretty important.

You can view the rest of the Tamarack site to learn more and also learn a bit about all of the operating companies and their missions and goals. It is still a living, breathing thing with more updates on the horizon so check back often!   

- Erin O'Malley, Creative Director

Tamarack Goals for 2016

Last month, the Tamarack Holdings team met to discuss high level goals and action items to be completed by the end of 2016, and we’re excited to share these with you. Later this year, our team will go through our own strategic planning process. This will help align our work with each entity's vision and goals over the next few years.

1) Develop and support the process to allow each of the Tamarack operating companies to define their purpose and value propositions, and to define appropriate monitoring metrics.  

  • Complete the program structure for the West Michigan Fruit Belt Farmland Program to present to investors in Q1 of 2017.
  • Complete the rebranding and repositioning of Earthy.
  • Develop full marketing plans for 2017 for Earthy and Cherry Capital Foods.
  • Create a  brand and communication plan for Tamarack Holdings.
  • Develop and begin execution on Earthy’s Strategic plan.
  • Support the successful execution of the Cherry Capital Foods’ Strategic Plan.

2) Provide all teams within the Tamarack family with the tools required to successfully implement their strategic plans and initiatives.  

  • Hire and fully transition an Executive Director for the Institute of Sustainable Foraging.
  • Identify and secure a new location for Food for Thought.
  • Select, create an implementation plan, and start the implementation process for an ERP solution to replace MOM.
  • Select an e-commerce platform and develop a project plan to launch a new version of Earthy.com.
  • Create the Tamarack Marketing Agency Model to implement in 2017.
  • Update/create employee handbooks for all entities.
  • Launch the Warehouse Redesign Project.
  • Outline recommendations for CCF Fleet Future State.

3) Lead subsidiary companies in the development and implementation of  budgets and healthy financial practices

  • Develop budgets for all companies for 2017 and 2018.
  • Document and formalize processes within the finance team to adhere to best accounting practices.
  • Construct and implement a process to gather and deliver company financial information and narrative to owner and management.
  • Assist each company to fully understand their cost structures to aid in decision making, empowering each to achieve long term financial stability.

4) Create the roadmap to become the employer of choice for the top tier of our talent pool by end of 2017.

  • Create and deliver a set of IT procedures and policies in coordination with SafetyNet and HR.
  • Complete a software implementation plan with documented how-tos for the rollout of Slack amongst the Tamarack entities.
  • An average of 4 hours of training per employee across all Tamarack Entities by the end of the year.
  • Develop a performance feedback and development tool for 2017 implementation.
  • End 2016 with zero lost time injuries.
  • Proactively work to develop strong servant leaders across the organization.

- Colleen Valko, Strategy Manager