I am your activist candidate
I'm running for the Board of Directors for Mountain Equipment Co-operative because I am concerned about recent trends in governance at our co-operative. I will bring a perspective to the Board that is based on the principles of transparency, accountability and member participation. I'm passionate about our co-operative because I recognize the important role it plays in helping members to participate in outdoor recreation.
In recent years, the Board has been recommending specific candidates for the membership to vote for. Since the practice began, the only candidates who have won a seat on the Board have been candidates who were recommended by the Board. In this environment, it is increasingly difficult to bring new perspectives onto the Board and potential candidates may be discouraged from speaking out against the Board.
I have not allowed the process to dissuade me from speaking out against things that I disagree with. In 2015, I attended the annual general meeting for the purpose of voting against the pay raise for the Board. In the same year, the Globe and Mail reported that "The basic retainer for the board chair is now more than $58,000. Four years ago, it was $30,500". One of the basic principles of the outdoor community is volunteerism. I do not see the need to continually ratchet up compensation for our co-operative Board.
I have also attended the AGM to request transparency into compensation for our CEO. Unlike similar member-owned organizations such as REI and credit unions, the members of MEC do not know how much of our money is used to compensate our CEO.
I would like to see the co-operative do more to engage the membership on major decisions. One of the most dramatic changes in recent years was the abandonment of the iconic Mountain Equipment Co-op logo in exchange for the new plain MEC logo. I filed a complaint with the co-operative in which I pointed out that we appeared to be in violation of section 26 (a) of the BC Co-operative Association Act by no longer displaying the name of the co-operative at the stores after the old signs were taken down. The co-operative responded by installing small placards by each entrance that contain the full name of the co-operative. The situation could have been avoided if there had been an opportunity for up-front member participation.
In my discussions with other Mountain Equipment Co-operative members, I know that there are a wide variety of issues that would benefit from increased transparency, accountability and member participation.
- Members are concerned about not being able to find their items in-stock or needing to travel a long distance to get to their nearest location.
- Members would like to talk about how much gear should be designed and manufactured in Canada.
- Members want to know more about what is being done to train and retain the front-line employees that are at the core of the experience of visiting a Mountain Equipment Co-operative store.
- Members want to better understand how the calculations for share redemptions work on a year to year basis.
I've taken my advocacy for changes at Mountain Equipment Co-op to the national stage through participation in two major articles in the Globe and Mail.
I am an advocate for parks and public access to public land
Some of my recent advocacy can be seen at these links:
I am also leading a campaign to establish a new provincial park at Semaphore Lakes.
I am passionate about exploring and photographing the outdoors
I am well qualified for the role
I have a career in the software industry as an entrepreneur and business leader with a track record of creating significant growth. I'm passionate about helping teams to connect deeply with their customers and iterate quickly to achieve a dominant market position.
I received my degree in Engineering Physics from the University of British Columbia. This background will bring useful knowledge to the co-operative since we are not only a retailer, but also design a significant line of technical outdoor equipment.
My professional profile can be seen here:
What are people saying about Steve's candidacy?
"Steve Jones is a great guy, definitely a broad thinker and the right kind of guy to be on the MEC board. I worked with him as part of UBC's entry in a Space Elevator design competition in 2006 or so. Steve is a hard worker and a principled leader."
"Good for you and good luck - hope you beat their 'recommended' (ugh) candidates."
"I don't know anyone more passionate about the outdoors than Steve Jones. He'd be an awesome person to have representing us on the MEC board. You have my vote Steve."
"I hope you win. I have noticed a deterioration in the quality of the products and service at MEC over the last 5 or 10 years. I agree with many of your proposals, in particular board and executive compensation. I think we should know how much our CEO is paid. Best of luck!"
"I have been returning broken/poor quality equipment a lot lately and have stopped replacing it. I have so many gift cards sitting around now."
"Hope you get in! you got my vote! Lets see if MEC can get back on the right track! Only 3 things are still great: rental, return policy and people that work there. We want QUALITY QUALITY QUALITY."
"MEC is the first place I go when wanting to buy athletic stuff, and I'm guaranteed to leave empty handed every time. Either out of stock or not carried at all, not in my size, or a poorly designed bag or garment."
"Wow, I may vote for the first time. It's about time someone went in and sorted out our co-op. MEC has been going down the wrong road for a long time. I went into MEC a few months ago, and what was front and center on display? Jeans! Why is MEC selling jeans? Why is MEC trying to be a traditional retailer like Sport Chek or something like that?"
"Got my vote, good luck in your quest for change! If you get in, please bring back an updated version of the cherished original branding/logo!"
"I no longer shop at Out Of Equipment Coop. They have become another corporate entity. It is now all about branding, yoga gear, and 500 different brands of running shoes."
"Steve, you're running for the board is a refreshing change to the direction the co-op has been going the last 8+years. You get my vote."
"I really appreciate your work as a backcountry advocate, and will be happy to vote for you."
I will continue to advocate for Mountain Equipment Co-op to move towards increased transparency, accountability and member involvement. I will be more effective with a seat at the table and I am asking for your vote to help put me there.