[MUSIC PLAYING] SPEAKER 1: All right, onto National Grape Welch's team.
SPEAKER 2: Hi, everyone. Today we will be presenting our engaged learning project. We are the National Grape and Welch's team. So to go over our agenda for today, to begin, we're going to start with an introduction of our engaged learning project, then we're going to introduce National Grape strategic issue, and then we're going to go through the design thinking approach that we use to solve this issue. And then lastly, we're going to show you a sneak peek of our final deliverable.
So to first introduce our team, our first team member is Faiz who unfortunately couldn't be here today. Additionally, we have Seth, Danielle, and myself, Maxine. So moving on, what is National Grape? National Grape is a grower-owned marketing cooperative dedicated to providing the most profitable long-term market for all of its members quality Concord and Niagara grapes.
So National Grape turns its members grapes into products which they market under their wholly owned subsidiary, Welch's. And they also have non-patron business, which is products like Welch's fruit snacks, which actually don't contain any patron grapes. But these are marketed under the Welch's brand as well.
So moving on, this map shows a depiction of the different regions within National Grape's membership. So the first region is the Washington region, which you see there. It has 191 growers. And these growers produce Concord and Niagara grapes. This has 10,000 acres and 750 certified organic acres.
The second region is the Niagara and Finger Lakes region, which has 42 growers which produce Concord and Niagara grapes. And this has approximately 1,300 acres. Third, we have the Lake Erie region which has 339 growers, which produce Concord and Niagara grapes. And this has 17,000 acres. And additionally, lastly, we have the Michigan region, which has 157 growers who produce West Concord and Niagara grapes, with 7,000 acres.
So moving on, this is a timeline that shows a brief history of National Grape and Welch's and how they came to be. This history started way back in 1869 when Charles Bramwell Welch created unfermented grape juice by pressing 40 pounds of grapes and using Louis Pasteur's pasteurization theory. In 1893, Welch's grape debuted at the World's Fair in Chicago and became a household name.
Later in 1897, Welch moved to Westfield, New York, and created the Welch Grape Juice Company. And this incorporated the company. Later, in 1945, the National Grape Cooperative was formed and it held its first annual meeting. Later in 1956, National Grape purchased the Welch's Grape Juice Company, which it still owns today. So now, I'll pass it on to Danny to talk about our strategic issue.
SPEAKER 3: Working with our clients, we identified three strategic issues that they wanted us to address. The first was that the co-op had a confusing organization of member education materials. We received at least over 10 materials they are supposed to parse through to create one deck. The next issue is that a member misunderstanding of the cooperative payment structure, which is vital to the members-- affects their business.
The third and final issue is that there was an unclear-- that there were unclear options for investment programs and allocation credit distribution. With our clients, we had three goals for our deliverable. Overall, we want to simplify and clarify the member materials to create a new member education program.
And our first goal was creating a concise slide deck with member information. The second was using appealing visuals to illustrate concepts and ideas that were very attainable to all members. The third is that we want it to be digestible, short form, and in one slide deck, as mentioned. So in creating our deliverable, we used to design-thinking approach.
And the first task we had was to define the issue. So we identified, as Max shared, the strategic issue at hand and determined the scope of the project. We first, as a group, met a few times going over the material, going over the co-operative, then met with our clients to just discuss with them what they thought the biggest issues were in their education materials. Second was to idea it, in which we brainstormed ideas and designed a plan to accomplish our set of goals. This meant parsing through all of the materials and creating our four topics that were in the new member education.
Our third approach was a prototype in which we conducted research, parsed through the material, and built new member education materials. Each one of our members in the group had one topic that would be part of the new member education. So we went through our reading materials that we got from the clients, set up notes, and then put them into our final deliverable. And the fourth and final step was to review the deliverables with the client and make any recommended adjustments. I'll now pass it on to Seth to discuss the actual new member education materials.
SPEAKER 4: Thanks, Danielle. So within the outline of what our slide deck would look like, by consolidating all of these different materials that we got from National Grape, we developed this outline that goes through four different aspects that we called "lessons" as part of the new member education program. So we started with a co-op overview. This provided background information about National Grape and Welch's. And we had different aspects here-- the mission and vision, the core values, the timeline that we showed you, with more with more details, the creation of National Grape, and the current state of the business. And that kind of meshes into the mission and values as well.
So the first thing that we talked about then as far as the structure of the cooperative is the payment structure. This is an important part of the co-op. And there's two main factors of payment that we mentioned. There's cash distributions, which is about 80% to 90% of the money that cooperative members get from their product. And then we also talked about allocation credits and also investment credits as well-- just to give more clarification of what these things are because they're a little complicated and we wanted to summarize it well. So these are the different aspects that we talked about.
We also had a Q&A session-- or section-- as well. We also took on a new part that we weren't planning on doing beforehand, but it felt like it really worked into our lesson deck. So we talked about inventory management. They have a whole program that helps farmers understand what happens in the co-op when they have oversupply and quality issues, also optimal crop levels for the farmers. And then we also included some base and threshold calculations for those farmers to utilize, as well as a Q&A section for those farmers.
Finally, we talked about governance. We had just an education-- a little bit of education about how the cooperative is set up. It's a big co-op. And we wanted to just summarize the different parts of the elective office, the membership, and patrons, and what membership meetings look like. So just to give you a quick look at what we created, it was mostly a slide deck. And we also created a short video to discuss the crop distributions.
This is just a quick little slide show that just shows the different slides. We used some of the same slides to show you guys in this presentation. But here is just a couple different slides from that. We tried to make it a very visually interesting deck so that they would look at it. And this is part of the video that we created as well, just describing things, making it look nice, also, including narration on every slide, so that it could be viewed as a video format for farmers as well.
So some key takeaways from this project-- number one, we wanted to just understand everything about the co-op that we could. So we understood the equity structure, governance, and inventory management programs through our research by consolidating all these different materials into one place. Two, we wanted to recognize-- we did recognize the importance of building a holistic new member education program for member patrons so that they can understand the co-op better.
Three, we wanted to understand how to simplify complex concepts in a more digestible manner, which is really hard. And it took a lot of time to figure out the best way to do that. And finally, maintaining a good communication plan increases the team's success and helps us to develop a great resource for member patrons. We'd like to thank members of National Grape, Dennis and Paul, for their help, and for Todd and Connor and all their help with us as well. And we look forward your questions.
SPEAKER 1: Were Dennis and Paul able to join us? Questions? Comments? I think this is the first time ever, in doing these projects, where a team actually added to the list of proposed deliverables at the beginning. So kudos for you. I mean, it made a lot of sense in the way you did it because all of that was important.
SPEAKER 5: Dennis is here.
SPEAKER 1: Oh Dennis is here. Dennis.
SPEAKER 6: Yes, I just wanted to chime in that they did a great job. Paul and I really appreciated their effort. This is the third one of these that I've done. And I think if there's one good thing that came out of the pandemic [INAUDIBLE]
SPEAKER 4: Thanks, Dennis.
SPEAKER 2: Thanks, Dennis. We enjoyed working with you a lot. We appreciate all your help.
SPEAKER 1: Dennis and National Grape have been with us for a while. We've learned how to do projects better, they've helped us learn how to do projects better. And this is really-- when a client says this is something ready to go to print and be off as part of their new member orientation materials, that means a lot. So great job.
SPEAKER 6: Paul is here, too. Paul is here, too.
SPEAKER 1: Oh, Paul. Paul, anything?
SPEAKER 7: I'm here. I'm out in the field, so you probably can't see me well. I talked to the guys did a great job. I echo everything Dennis said. We've struggled for years in this area trying to get people to understand what it is we do and how we do it, even though they've been members forever.
You know, using this going forward in our new [INAUDIBLE] I think it's great. I think we can use it right away. And I congratulate all four of you guys for a job well done. Thank you.
SPEAKER 1: I have a quick question. Thanks, Paul, for coming from the field. That's awesome. I love your design-thinking approach. I think that's something I'd like to incorporate into the-- teaching folks-- you're talking about these projects. That's a great way of IDA prototype review is just awesome. So thank you for that. My only remaining question was, is there a difference between a West Concord grape and a Concord grape?
SPEAKER 6: You should ask these guys.
SPEAKER 1: I've never heard of that before, but apparently Michigan grows a different kind of Concord grape out there.
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Part of the
Grand Challenges curriculum, Cooperative Business Management(AEM3260/5260) focuses on engaged learning with community and cooperative clients.In May of 2022, ten student project teams presented the results of their semester-long work with community partners. Professor Todd Schmit evaluates.
Project title: Building member knowledge of cooperative equity Community Partner: National Grape/Welch’s Student Team: Faiz Adem, Seth Bollinger, Maxine Mangubat, Danielle Sitzer