Los Alamos Cooperative Market Receives Rotary’s Districtwide Business of the Year Award!

Steve Watts, third from left, general manager of the Los Alamos Cooperative Market (LA Co-op), accepted the Sonny Brown Business Award of the Year Saturday at the Rotary District 5520’s annual conference in Albuquerque. The award is given based upon high ethical standards of business and service to the community. Joining Watts are Pat Murray, District 5520 awards coordinator, District 5520 Governor Kit Turpen and Linda Hull, immediate past president of the Rotary Club of Los Alamos. Photo by Eric Ferm

At the Sonny Brown Business Award Luncheon Saturday in Albuquerque from left, Linda Hull, immediate past president of the Rotary Club of Los Alamos, Steve Watts, general manager of the LA Co-op, his wife Emily and Allison Pannell of the Rotary Club of Los Alamos. Photo by Eric Ferm

Staff Report

The Los Alamos Cooperative Market, popularly known as the LA Co-op, was selected to receive the Sonny Brown Business Award from Rotary District 5520 at the District’s Annual Conference Saturday in Albuquerque.

General Manager Steve Watts attended the special luncheon to accept the prestigious award on behalf of the LA Co-op.

The Rotary Club of Los Alamos recently honored the LA Co-op with its Sonny Brown Business Award. The award, named after an El Paso Rotarian for his outstanding leadership, was established in 2005, Rotary International’s centennial year. This award recognizes businesses throughout Rotary District 5520 (New Mexico and west Texas) that exemplify the high ethical standards of Rotary. Businesses must demonstrate excellence in community involvement, employee relations, and in service or product.

Each business recognized by a local Rotary Club within District 5520 competes, by category, for the Sonny Brown Business of the Year Award for the District. Awards are given in categories based upon the number of employees a business has. In previous years, local recipients have included Pet Pangaea and Daniel’s Café.

This year’s local award committee was co-chaired by Deesh Narang and Gary DeRosier with assistance from Linda Hull.

The essay portion of the application for the LA Co-op reads in part:

“Since its founding just three years ago, the LA Co-op has become a popular gathering place for our community and a generous contributor to it. The LA Co-op is our first and only natural/organic grocery store and has 31 employees, all of whom are encouraged by the Co-op’s Board to participate in community activities. The LA Co-op makes this easy by offering a number of engaging events throughout the year. Among these is the Youth Food Program, in which middle school students learn about sustainable agricultural practices and have built a small on-site greenhouse.

The LA Co-op also regularly offers free classes to the public, such as Hungry for Change, taught by experts in health, wellness, environmental stewardship, and nutrition. In addition to hosting performances during our local summer concert series, a Thanksgiving Farmers Market, bike swaps, and student art and music celebrations, the Co-op supports the middle and high school environment clubs and provides produce for the black bears at the Española Wildlife Center who have been displaced by fire and drought. The LA Co-op budgets monthly support for the Los Alamos projects of the local non-profit animal shelter and the nature center, the YMCA and Self Help, Inc. Most recently the Co-op donated $1 per register transaction to purchase trees to offset its impact on carbon use.

The Co-op Board itself has adopted Canyon Rim Trail for two clean-up days a year; the employees have adopted Pueblo Canyon Trail for the same care.

Even before LA Co-op opened its doors in 2011, it had created a reputation for ethical business practices. The Co-op is open to the public, but its members democratically operate the business, elect its Board of Directors, participate in its economic growth plans, advocate education and training, and emphasize concern for the community. The LA Co-op adheres to fair pricing of foods grown sustainably, promotes nutrition and healthy life-styles, as well as fairness and empowerment in the workplace, and places a profound focus on food for people, not just for profit. To further employee relations, the Co-op closes twice a year for staff enrichment and to recognize and show appreciation for their employees.

The LA Co-op has been recognized for its community service by Assets in Action, the LAHS Work-Study Program and Los Alamos County as Business Recycler of the Year, 2013.

The Rotary Club of Los Alamos believes the LA Co-Op has demonstrated an exemplary track record in the areas of community involvement, customer service, employee relations and quality of product and is deserving of both the Club’s local award and the District’s Sonny Brown Business of the Year Award.

Steve Watts, third from left, general manager of the Los Alamos Cooperative Market (LA Co-op), accepted the Sonny Brown Business Award of the Year Saturday at the Rotary District 5520’s annual conference in Albuquerque. The award is given based upon high ethical standards of business and service to the community. Joining Watts are Pat Murray, District 5520 awards coordinator, District 5520 Governor Kit Turpen and Linda Hull, immediate past president of the Rotary Club of Los Alamos. Photo by Eric Ferm

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