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    Published on: November 9, 2020

    The Wall Street Journal this morning has a piece about the growth of micro-fulfillment facilities.  An excerpt:

    "The sites are far smaller than the typical sprawling, labor-intensive distribution centers in remote industrial parks, and they are becoming a new focus for retailers adjusting to the dizzying changes in consumer markets. Some merchants had been testing compact fulfillment sites in recent years, but the rush to online shopping during the coronavirus pandemic is accelerating moves toward space-saving, automation-powered warehouses.

    "By squeezing those operations into urban warehouses and the backs of stores, businesses hope to pare delivery times so online orders reach their destinations in hours, not days."

    Among the retailers testing various configurations of micro-fulfillment are Walmart, Albertsons, H-E-B, and even Nordstrom - all of which have been persuaded that micro-fulfillment is the answer to surging e-commerce demand.  The Journal writes that "the market for automated grocery micro-fulfillment centers is estimated to be worth $1.2 billion by 2024, according to market-research firm Interact Analysis."

    KC's View:

    Seems to me that this is just one part - albeit an important part - of the reconfiguring of American retail, especially in the food industry, where traditional store footprints need to be put aside so that components such as e-commerce (delivery and click-and-collect), ghost kitchens, dark stores and micro-fulfillment operations can be included.  They'll be vitally important for any retail future, and have to be part of a fundamental rethinking of how physical space should be allocated and used.

    Published on: November 9, 2020

    CNBC reports that "bankruptcies have piled up in the retail industry this year, as many of the consumer-facing companies that were already teetering on the edge of survival prior to the coronavirus pandemic were pushed into even bigger sales slumps, and could not manage through the crisis. And analysts say another wave of filings likely lies ahead, after the holiday season, with the size of that wave dependent upon retailers’ performance through the winter months."

    However, the story notes, that doesn't mean these bankrupt retailers are vanishing.

    CNBC writes that "a number of the retailers that have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this year have already emerged, in some form or fashion. Typically, that is with fewer bricks-and-mortar stores, as many companies will use the restructuring process to break leases without penalty to slim down their real-estate portfolios … A Chapter 11 filing is, simply put, a way for troubled companies to slash unprofitable assets and burdensome debt, while their management team remains in control of the business. And a bankruptcy court oversees the negotiating process with landlords, creditors, vendors and other involved parties."

    KC's View:

    A thought here, at the risk of being overly simplistic.  (I'm sure you'll tell me if I am.)

    There may have been a time when retailers would file for bankruptcy protection as a way of getting their finances in order - it would give them some breathing room in which to quite literally reorganize.

    But today, I suspect, the process may be even more challenging … it isn't just a matter of reorganization, but sometimes even re-conceiving the very nature of the business, of figuring out not just how the business fits into present circumstances, but the future.  And, you're doing it at a time when the pace of change is faster than ever.

    When I look at the list of retailers have have declared bankruptcy, I generally ask myself, "Do they have the kind of vision and are they doing the hard work necessary to turn their companies into mid-21st century retailers?"

    Because if they don't and if they aren't, then they may just be putting off the inevitable.

    Published on: November 9, 2020

    Random and illustrative stories about the global pandemic and how businesses and various business sectors are trying to recover from it, with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

    •  In the United States, the confirmed Covid-19 coronavirus case count now stands at 10,288,480, with 243,768 deaths and 6,483,420 reported recoveries.

    Globally, there have been 50,818,521 confirmed coronavirus cases, 1,263,144 fatalities and 35,837,940 reported recoveries.  (Source.)


    •  The Washington Post makes the point that it took the US more than three months to go from zero cases to one million cases, while it only has taken 10 days to go from nine million to 10 million cases.

    The Post goes on:

    "Good news was hard to find. The country’s seven-day new case average was more than 100,000 for the first time. In five of the past seven days, more than 1,000 deaths were recorded … More than half of states reported a new high for their seven-day average of cases, including Maryland, for the first time since early May.

    "The virus has been spreading fastest in the Great Lakes and Mountain West states, with North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin leading the way. For nearly a month, Ohio has each day set a new high in its seven-day new case average."


    •  From the Wall Street Journal:

    "The nation’s seven-day moving average of newly reported cases, which helps smooth out irregularities in the data, rose to 108,498 as of Sunday, the latest in a series of record highs and the second time over 100,000. The 14-day moving average was 94,917. When the seven-day average is higher than the 14-day average, it suggests cases are rising.

    "As infection numbers rise, hospitalization levels are also climbing. As of Sunday, 56,768 people were in hospitals due to Covid-19, the largest number since July 29, according to the Covid Tracking Project. Intensive-care units are also dealing with an upsurge: 11,108 people were being treated in ICUs around the country as of Sunday, the highest number since May 12."


    •  The Wall Street Journal this morning reports that "a vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc. and partner BioNTech SE proved better than expected at protecting people from Covid-19 in a pivotal study, a milestone in the hunt for shots that can stop the global pandemic.

    "The vaccine proved to be more than 90% effective in the first 94 subjects who were infected by the new coronavirus and developed at least one symptom, the companies said Monday.  The positive, though incomplete, results bring the vaccine a big step closer to getting cleared for widespread use."


    •  Yahoo Life reports on an interview that was conducted over the weekend by the American Medical Association (AMA) with Dr. Anthony Fauci in which he talked about the progress being made with vaccines that could be used to treat the coronavirus, and what the prospects are for a return to some sort of normal.

    "The issue with vaccines is actually good news in a time of considerable concern and stress about the outbreak," he said. "We have six candidates that the United States government is helping out with either in the development of, or in the facilitation of the testing of five of those six are already in phase three trial. And two of them, the Moderna and the Pfizer product started phase three trials on July, the 27th, they're fully enrolled."

    Fauci went on:  "We hope that as we get into November and maybe in the early December, we get an answer as to whether or not one or more of these candidates are safe and effective. I'm cautiously optimistic that we will have a safe and effective vaccine. And then we'll be able to start distributing doses reasonably soon thereafter integrated fashion to individuals with the highest priority such as healthcare workers and people on the front lines."

    And, he added, "There are two factors that are going to determine the degree to which public health measures are going to be playing an important part in protecting our country and the people in our country.  First of all, how effective would the vaccine be? And as importantly, how many individuals are going to opt to take the vaccine, because, you know, there is a considerable degree of reticence/skepticism about the vaccine that we need to overcome by transparency and messaging and reaching out to the community … But if we get a reasonably effective—75% effective vaccine and a substantial proportion of the population takes the vaccine, I think we're going to be going in the right direction towards approaching some degree of normality as we head into 2021—in the second, third and fourth quarter of 2021. So that's good news."


    •  The New York Times this morning has a story about the business winners and losers that have emerged during the pandemic - some of them surprising.

    "Some companies that had feared for their lives in the spring, among them some rental car businesses, restaurant chains and financial firms, are now doing fine — or even excelling," the Times writes.

    "During recessions, consumers often decide to pull back and avoid large outlays. But this year, something different happened. Many Americans who did not lose jobs but were also not spending on travel and entertainment found themselves with more disposable income. The $1,200 stimulus payments from the government also helped.

    "This has been a boon for companies that initially feared a deep recession. General Motors and Ford Motor, for example, rushed to borrow billions of dollars early in the year, expecting that car sales would tumble and stay low for a while. The auto business did struggle and automakers had to close their factories for about two months, but sales started picking up this summer. For the third quarter, G.M., Ford and other automakers reported big profits."

    While the airlines suffered, some travel industry companies "have found a way to survive," the Times writes.  "Hertz sought bankruptcy protection in May. And its biggest competitor, the Avis Budget Group, ran up large losses — $639 million in the first six months of the year. But Avis turned a modest $45 million profit in the third quarter.  The company’s comeback was made possible by cost cutting and a decision to sell 75,000 vehicles in the United States to take advantage of strong demand for used cars."

    The Times makes the point - and it is absolutely worth making - that many of these judgements are related to how companies' stock prices are performing.  Which is fine, except that the stock market is not always directly reflective of economic strength and weakness.


    •  The Wall Street Journal has a piece about the continuing quandary facing restaurants as they try to figure out how to stay afloat as the weather gets colder but the pandemic shows no sign of going away.  

    There are certain things that most restaurant owners know, the story says.  One is that customers seem to want to dine inside, just like they used to.  Another is that when their dining rooms open, receipts go up.  And many of them - especially chains like McDonald's and Starbucks - feel that they have sufficiently honed their ability to impose and enforce safety standards that will keep their employees and customers safe.

    But, the Journal writes, "with Covid-19 cases rising to new heights, these chains and other restaurant owners are closing some dining rooms again now where officials have instructed them to do so. Illinois suspended indoor dining statewide on Wednesday, while a two-week stay-at-home order imposed by El Paso, Texas, through Nov. 11 has shut dining rooms.

    "McDonald’s and Starbucks say they aren’t shutting dining rooms across the board this time. Instead they are fine-tuning plans that they say allow them to serve customers inside safely, even as the virus continues to circulate across the U.S."

    The story goes on:  "The lack of widespread contact tracing in the U.S. has made it difficult to determine whether restaurants are facilitating the spread of the coronavirus, but federal and state studies indicate some connection. A U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey in September found that people who tested positive for Covid-19 were about twice as likely to have dined at a restaurant within a two-week period as people who tested negative for the virus.

    "The virus thrives in enclosed spaces, and eating in a restaurant exposes diners to close contact with other people for extended periods while they are talking and not wearing masks, scientists say. Ventilation, air-purification systems and well-spaced tables can help but won’t eliminate the dangers of indoor dining as cases rise…"

    It is especially restaurants that are staffed by and attractive to young people that I would be most concerned about.  In my town, a new restaurant opened the other day - Playa Bowl, which I've never heard of before.  But apparently a lot of teenagers had, because when the store did an opening day promotion, there were dozens of them line dup on the sidewalk to get in, many of them wearing masks but few practicing physical distancing.  I'm betting on a rash of infections at our local high school within the next week that ends up with many if not all students going remote.


    •  From Willamette Week:

    "Amid a mammoth increase in COVID-19 cases across Oregon, Gov. Kate Brown today instructed residents of Multnomah County to refrain from holding private gatherings larger than six people for the next two weeks … Brown also limited the capacity of indoor restaurants and barrooms to 50 people, including staff. She ordered all businesses to cap their capacity at 50 as well, encouraged employers to keep workers at home, and ended in-person visits at nursing homes. The restrictions apply to five counties where case rates exceed 200 per 100,000 people—including Multnomah County, the state's most populous."


    •  White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows disclosed on Friday that he tested positive for the Covid-19 coronavirus last Wednesday.


    •  USA Today reports that "Trader Joe’s announced that 1,250 of its 53,000 employees tested positive for COVID-19 within the past eight months, an infection rate of about 2.4%, according to the grocery store chain.

    "The coronavirus also was "suspected to be a contributing factor" in two employee deaths, according to Trader Joe’s.

    "The grocer has 514 stores in 42 states and Washington, D.C."

    The story quotes Trader Joe's as saying that it believes that "the results in virtually all areas are below the average rates of positive cases in each community where we have stores."  Trader Joe's said that  "95% of the employees who tested positive and completed a quarantine period have recovered and chosen to return to work."


    •  From the New York Times (just to give us all something else to worry about):

    "The decision this week by the Danish government to kill millions of mink because of coronavirus concerns, effectively wiping out a major national industry, has put the spotlight on simmering worries among scientists and conservationists about the vulnerability of animals to the pandemic virus, and what infections among animals could mean for humans.

    "The most disturbing possibility is that the virus could mutate in animals and become more transmissible or more dangerous to humans. In Denmark, the virus has shifted from humans to mink and back to humans, and has mutated in the process. Mink are the only animals known to have passed the coronavirus to humans, except for the initial spillover event from an unknown species. Other animals, like cats and dogs, have been infected by exposure to humans, but there are no known cases of people being infected by exposure to their pets."

    Public health experts, the story says, worry "that any species capable of infection could become a reservoir that allowed the virus to re-emerge at any time and infect people. The virus would likely mutate in other animal species, as it has been shown to do in mink. Although most mutations are likely to be harmless, SARS-CoV-2 conceivably could recombine with another coronavirus and become more dangerous. Conservation experts also worry about the effect on animal species that are already in trouble."


    •  The New York Times has a piece about how the pandemic is threatening the existence of Paris's 'les bouquinistes," metal, open-air bookstalls that sell books and periodicals, among other things, along the Left and Right banks of the River Seine.

    "As lockdown restrictions to curb the coronavirus pandemic keep browsers at bay," the Times writes, "the booksellers’ livelihood is rapidly being put in jeopardy. Many are bracing for what they fear may be the final chapter for a centuries-old métier that is as iconic to Paris as the Louvre and Notre Dame … Even before France imposed a new nationwide lockdown last month to combat a resurgence of the virus, the tourists who are a staple of the bouquinistes’ income had largely stopped coming. And the beloved Parisien pastime of flânerie — strolling aimlessly to enjoy life — has been all but snuffed out, stifled by curfews and quarantines that have deprived the booksellers of die-hard clients."

    The Times writes that "days go by without any vendors making a sale," and that 80 percent of the "stands that run on both sides of the river, from Notre Dame to the Pont Royal, are more or less permanently shuttered."

    We could all use a little more flânerie in our lives, I think.  Frankly, we could all use a little more Paris.  At least I could.  

    But let's face it.  Even Notre Dame isn't Notre Dame anymore.  And we can't blame that on the pandemic.

    Published on: November 9, 2020

    From USA Today:

    "In the wake of the pandemic, a number of stores like Macy's, Whole Foods (owned by Amazon), and Kroger are trying a new tactic to stay afloat: They're going dark. That doesn't mean they're shutting off the lights and calling it a day. Instead, these so-called 'dark stores' are attempting to stay open by closing their doors to shoppers and transforming their spaces to order fulfillment centers."

    You can read the piece here.

    Published on: November 9, 2020

    Lovely new holiday commercial from Amazon, focusing on a young woman whose life is turned upside down by the pandemic, and how Amazon plays a role in how she and her community deal with it.  You can watch it here:

    Published on: November 9, 2020

    With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

    •  From the "sometimes you can teach a new dog old tricks" file…

    Variety reports that Netflix is getting into the business of linear programming, moving for the first time away from its streaming model.

    The test will take place in France.  "Named Direct, the linear channel — which is only available to subscribers — will air French, international and U.S. feature films and TV series that are available on the streaming service. However, the channel will only be accessible via the service’s web browser, unlike its streaming service, which is found on set-top boxes thanks to distribution deals with French telco groups such as Orange, Canal Plus and SFR.

    "The initiative marks Netflix’s first foray into real-time, scheduled programming."

    I have no idea why this makes sense, to be honest, unless it is seen as a way of accessing advertising dollars that will bolster Netflix's bottom line.


    •  The Wall Street Journal reports that "a California judge has dismissed a defamation lawsuit against Jeff Bezos that his girlfriend’s brother, Michael Sanchez, had filed over accusations revolving around leaked graphic photos of the Amazon.com Inc. founder.

    "Judge John P. Doyle, of Los Angeles County Superior Court, on Thursday said Mr. Sanchez’s allegations relied on hearsay—what he had heard from reporters—and didn’t count as admissible evidence. The judge threw out Mr. Sanchez’s defamation claim and a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress.

    "The allegations in the lawsuit revolved around a January 2019 article in the National Enquirer that made public an affair between Lauren Sanchez—Mr. Sanchez’s sister—and Mr. Bezos, who were both married at the time. Mr. Bezos and Ms. Sanchez remain in a relationship."

    Published on: November 9, 2020

    •  Reuters reports that Walmart said that it is selling its Argentina business "to South American supermarket chain owner Grupo de Narváez, pulling back as the country grapples with an economic crisis.

    "The U.S. company did not disclose the size of the deal for retail operations involving more than 90 stores, but said it would record about a $1 billion after-tax, non-cash loss related to the divestiture in its fiscal third quarter next year.

    "The sale comes as Argentina, mired in recession since 2018, has just emerged from a sovereign default and is grappling with a currency crisis. The government has been fending off talk that international firms are looking for the exit."


    •  A website called Ford Authority reports that "Walmart and comedian/car collector extraordinaire Jay Leno just announced that they were teaming up to reimagine Sam Walton’s F-150 using a brand new 2021 Ford F-150. The collaboration occurred as a way to celebrate the fact that the retailer will be selling Leno’s line of car care and detailing products this coming spring."

    It is a pretty good plug, both for Leno's products and the man who remains Walmart's cultural inspiration and touchstone.  You can watch it here:

    Published on: November 9, 2020

    •  CVS Health announced that Karen Lynch will be its new CEO, succeeding Larry merlo, who is retiring.

    Lynch runs the company's Aetna insurance business, and will step into the top job at CVS, the Wall Street Journal writes, as it is reaping the "benefits of its Aetna acquisition, which has fueled revenue gains and set the company apart from its struggling rival Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc."

    The promotion also makes CVS "the largest company by revenue to be run by a female CEO," the Journal writes.

    Published on: November 9, 2020

    Alex Trebek, who hosted the game show "Jeopardy" for 37 years and became a symbol for intelligence and calm, bringing consistency and comfort into America's living rooms on a nightly basis, has passed away.  He was 80, and had been battling pancreatic cancer since March 2019.

    "Jeopardy" producers said that Trebek had been taping programs until as recently as a few weeks ago, and that episodes featuring him will run until late December.  A successor has not been named.

    Published on: November 9, 2020

    The other day we ran an email from an MNB reader who was responding to a an op-ed piece in the Iowa Capital Dispatch that we cited that suggested that Hy-Vee's election efforts may have gone too far when Chairman-CEO-President Randy Edeker did a video for employees promoting a political point of view.

    The email got down in the weeds on some issues, but in general was highly critical of Edeker's management style, which was described as being more autocratic than previous Hy-Vee leaders, leading to a less decentralized culture at odds with the Hy-Vee tradition.

    I responded this way:

    What distresses me the most about this email is the suggestion that Hy-Vee, traditionally the model of decentralized management, may now have a culture in which there is "authoritarian leadership" that "has stifled originality and the right to dissent."

    I guess my message would be that if this is inaccurate, Hy-Vee at the very least has a perception problem … because I don't think this email is coming from someone who could be described as a disgruntled employee.

    This prompted a long phone conversation between me and Donna Tweeten, Hy-Vee's EVP/Chief of Staff/Chief Marketing Officer … and I think it would be fair to say that she was not pleased with MNB or me.  I urged her to send me an email challenging both the style and substance of what was posted on MNB, and promised her that I would feature it prominently on the site.

    Here is her email.  (I will respond on the other side.)

    Kevin,

    If the reader who submitted the email about Hy-Vee CEO Randy Edeker knew anything about the “story” that was published in the Iowa Capitol Dispatch, they would know that first of all Kathie Obradovich is the editor of that online blog, not the writer of this hit piece on Hy-Vee and our CEO. Do some more digging and you’ll realize that the writer of the piece is a journalist who was recently fired from the Cedar Rapids Gazette…who also is trying to sell a book that she just published. You don’t think she had a personal agenda with anything she wrote about the company, do you?

    Not once did it cross your mind that perhaps she was trying to self-promote herself by taking a swing at one of Iowa’s largest employers? Did you even call us to check on any of this before running an email from a disgruntled individual or perhaps previous employee? The answer is no.

    With your influence on the retail industry, Randy and all of Hy-Vee’s employees are owed an apology for the false statements you published that simply are not true. What’s even worse about the email you ran was that it was sent to you by an individual who doesn’t even understand DIR fees. Politicians on both sides of the aisle are trying to fix DIR fees, because skyrocketing DIR fees are what’s shutting down pharmacies at an absurd rate across our country. Small pharmacies can’t afford the fees and now neither can large corporations. They are costing retailers millions and millions of dollars and all that does is raise prices on the end user, which is the consumer. And finally to address this anonymous person who feels the need to criticize us for talking about the election last week, I would hope every company would be doing that – analyzing the impacts every candidate’s policies have on their company and their employees. Not once did we tell any of our employees who to vote for – the referenced “quote” in the article even flat out states that. But according your anonymous source, I guess we are all supposed to keep our mouths shut and never have the ability to discuss the future. Shame on this person for submitting such an uneducated piece to your “gossip column”.

    And worse yet, we are appalled that you think it’s OK to run an email from a “source” before even understanding the back story to any of this. All it would have taken was a phone call. Instead, now we have to reach out to you to correct false statements. An opinion is one thing … running a submission to essentially hurt a retailer by spreading rumors is another.

    I will respond here by saying to you what I said to Donna on the phone.

    I actually wrestled with whether or not to run the original email.  I'm not really comfortable with attacks that might be seen as personal - unless I am the one who is making them.  (I can't and don't want to hide behind anonymity.)

    That said, as I told Donna, the reason I finally decided to run it is that this is not the first conversation I've had in which Hy-Vee has been described to me as having undergone a culture change in recent years … and it was only because I'd heard this from a number of people that I thought it was worth putting it out there.

    I'm sure there are lots of folks who think I was wrong to do so.  Maybe a few people thought I was right.

    (I did some checking, by the way, and it is true at the author of the original piece that sparked all this conversation, Lyz Lenz, was fired by the Cedar Rapids Gazette.  Lenz was a columnist, paid to express her opinions, and apparently she ran afoul of some folks who found her opinions to be divisive rather than illuminating.  I've had that experience.  Best I can tell, there also were folks who liked her work.  I've had that experience, too.  As for her book, she does have one that came out a few months ago:  "Belabored: A Vindication of the Rights of Pregnant Women."  If she's using a piece about Hy-Vee's politics to sell this book, I'm not getting the connection.)

    But here's the thing.  Over the weekend, I received another email from an MNB reader.

    I have spent many years with Hy-Vee and was there before Randy became CEO.  Hy-Vee was exactly as your stated impression of them was;  the model of decentralized management that was filled with talented associates that were original thinkers that were comfortable voicing their opinions on business matters not fearing any kind of retribution.  I was truly a great company and a great place to be associated with.

    But then things started to change.  It wasn’t long before talent started leaving the company.  Truly talented staff found that they could work for companies that really did appreciate their talents and did not have to put up with the changes that were being implemented company wide.  The ones that stay and try to improve things from within face discrimination, humiliation, and retribution.  The company culture has been totally converted to the very thing your reader stated; stifling originality and dissent and fearing demotion or discharge if challenging the new status quo.  Centralized control has totally usurped the old way of autonomy.

    Hy-Vee no longer enjoys the financial equity they once did.  It’s not surprising that the current CEO finds areas to point his finger at that are not the real problem.  The problem lays with him and the many errant decisions he has made that are simply bad decisions.  But, with no one willing to speak up these decisions and programs go forward many destined for failure.

    Hy-Vee’s long history of greatness has been severely mitigated.  There is always hope for the future, but from my perspective it is in the distant future for Hy-Vee.  I love the comment that no one was willing to tell the emperor that he has no clothes.  So appropriate.

    As a courtesy, I sent the text of this email to Donna, who responded as follows:

    I understand that you feel compelled to print this new email you recently received.  I’m assuming the author is anonymous.  Yes?  Of course they are.  Which is unfortunate.  Don’t understand how one would allow someone with no specific examples to have their anonymous opinion put in print. I do understand and can appreciate the printing of an anonymous letter IF they provide examples with detail or specifics that can be fact checked and/or proven.

    Spouting out assumptions and accusations without specifics and without providing the opportunity for fact-checking, and yet still getting your say in print  continues to be a head scratcher for me.  Maybe I’m old school, but I had journalism professors that taught a different standard.  The printing of statements behind an anonymous author was fair — but best to get the author to provide the reporter/editor/publisher with enough information to provide legitimate concern to the grievance.  If not, your publication turns into a gossip rag.  Right now it seems like Morning News Beat is becoming Glassdoor with these types of emails reviewing the CEO of an organization.  

    Freedom of speech behind a curtain or while wearing a mask is concerning to me.  Always has been. 

    To be fair, the reason some folks ask for anonymity is because they are concerned about retribution - that's not a comment about Hy-Vee specifically, but rather in general.

    I understand, however, that if you are on the receiving end of anonymous criticism, that is cold comfort.  I don't think this makes MNB a "gossip rag."  I do think MNB always has been a place where, from time to time, unpopular positions can be aired and frank conversations can be conducted.

    I've always respected Hy-Vee and the culture for which it is known.  I made this point at the start of this discussion - that it would be a shame if Hy-Vee has undergone a culture shift, and ifit has not, then it certainly has an internal perception problem.

    That remains my position, and I think it is fair.

    But I get that not everyone agrees with me.

    Donna is not the only person from Hy-Vee to object to the characterization of the company and MNB's role in putting it out there.

    Frank Woodward, Senior Vice President of Hy-Vee's Western Region, wrote:

    I know the people who read your newsletter are leaders in this industry. They understand the hard work, determination and nuance it takes to be successful in retail. Being a leader is hard - and speaking from personal experience - being a leader liked by everyone is impossible. Regarding the piece about Hy-Vee and Randy Edeker – I’ve known Randy for many years and he is a CEO who is trying to do what’s best for our company and our employees. A disgruntled employee (or former employee) combined with what was a contentious election cycle do not lend themselves to your blog attacking a leader in the industry. In addition, outside the personal attacks, the commenter leaves a lot to be desired in their account of DIR fees, politicians and the relationship between them. I know your commentary is “analysis with attitude,” but this posting crossed a line. I have great respect for the company I work for, and our leadership has always been top-notch. I hope you will highlight the good work that we do in your future newsletters.

    Larry Ballard, who does Hy-Vee's Customer Communications, wrote:

    In this current political season, something has rang true over and over. CEOs have a really tough job – and they have to be uniquely suited to help organizations grow and find success. Looking at Hy-Vee’s performance from the time Randy Edeker began until now, you may hardly recognize the company. The growth, innovation and overall brand image has been transformed into a sleek and modern retail experience. If I didn’t work for the company, I’d be much more interested in hearing how Randy was able to do what he’s done in what is considered a retail ice age, rather than hear about a disgruntled employee’s break room gripes.

    And Tonia Petterson, a Hy-Vee store manager, wrote:

    Wow.  Didn’t know your newsletter had turned into a gossip column. That, in essence, is how I felt reading the submitted piece about Randy Edeker and our company. As you pointed out, it seems to me that someone has a bone to pick with Mr. Edeker but not the stomach to do so in person. A shame really, because my experience with the company is quite the opposite of what was shared – an innovative, company that is leading the industry in many ways. That type of success comes with change, but I think in retail, it’s better to experience that now than face extinction by inaction.

    I will say again what I told Donna.  I am happy to run any email that expresses an opinion about Hy-Vee's culture.  That's what I am here for, and I am willing to be the instrument of my own skewering.

    Published on: November 9, 2020

    In Week Nine of National Football League play:

    Denver Broncos 27, Atlanta Falcons 34

    Seattle Seahawks 34, Buffalo Bills 44

    Chicago Bears 17, Tennessee Titans 24

    Baltimore Ravens 24, Indianapolis Colts 10

    Carolina Panthers 31, Kansas City Chiefs 33

    Detroit Lions 20, Minnesota Vikings 34

    NY Giants 23, Washington 20

    Houston Texans 27, Jacksonville Jaguars 25

    Las Vegas Raiders 31, Los Angeles Chargers 26

    Pittsburgh Steelers 24, Dallas Cowboys 19

    Miami Dolphins 34, Arizona Cardinals  31

    New Orleans Saints 39, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 3