Howard Brodsky was the Keynote speaker at a gathering of the nation’s top cooperative leaders at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. yesterday (May 3). Brodsky addressed more than 150 executives from multiple industries at the 2017 National Cooperative Issues Forum.
His Keynote, “Lead With Our Co-Op Identity” focused on helping entrepreneurs build successful businesses by providing the scale, resources and innovations needed for small businesses to compete against large-scale corporations that often dominate the business landscape. Brodsky’s speech offered Cooperative business strategies that provide small and family businesses a lifeline for success in an increasingly competitive global economy. In March, Brodsky presented a Keynote address to European business leaders in the United Kingdom about the global economic outlook for 2018.
“Consumer confidence in corporations has been shaken to the core thanks to the endless stream of stories like the Volkswagen, Wells Fargo and Mylan scandals,” Brodsky said following his keynote address. “Certainly, to succeed, any business needs to be profitable - but not at the expense of its stakeholders and its customers. Cooperatives are democratically run businesses whose members are its owners. That’s one of the key differentiators between publicly held corporations and cooperatives. Simply stated, cooperatives exist to serve the needs of people rather than maximize profits. When you put people’s needs first, the profits will always follow,” Brodsky said.
With more than 30,000 co-ops serving virtually every sector of American business, co-ops are increasingly becoming the better way to do business, Brodsky noted. According to the National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA), Co-op revenues exceeded $3 trillion in 2016 and nearly one million people work for co-ops. Despite public perception that co-ops are relative unknowns, everyday brand giants like Cabot Creamery Cooperative, REI, Ace Hardware, Carpet One, the Associated Press, Sunkist and Ocean Spray, are some of the thousands of co-op companies thriving across America.
“Cooperatives offer each of its member-owners a vote in board elections and equal say in running the business,” Brodsky notes. “This establishes a higher degree of accountability than investor-based companies. As such, the member owners answer to each other. That creates a high-level of responsibility, respect and trust within the organization as everyone has skin in the game, so to speak. This helps minimize the chance for fraud, misconduct and negative behavior. With co-ops, it’s not all about profit. It’s about doing the right thing and that in turn leads to profit.”
With a spotlight on cooperative power, Brodsky’s speech focused on the co-op business model as a disruptor, differentiator and change agent in the way companies do business. Brodsky shared success stories on ways to leverage the co-op advantage, and outlined the Seven Key Principals for cooperation among cooperatives. They are: Voluntary and Open membership; Democratic Member Control; Member’s Economic Participation; Autonomy and Independence; Education, Training, and Information; Cooperation Among Cooperatives, and Concern For Community.
“Cooperatives truly are the better business model,” Brodsky says. “I have dedicated my life to spreading that message. Cooperatives have been the key to my success for many decades and I want it to work for millions of others and the good of their businesses.”
Brodsky and his colleague Alan Greenberg founded CCA Global Partners in 1984, establishing it as a cooperative, and launching Carpet One Floor & Home as its first business.