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Susan McGaughey retiring from Valley Natural Foods
Susan McGaughey has been a leader at Valley Natural Foods in suburban Burnsville, Minnesota, for 37 of the co-op’s 40 years. McGaughey served for the past 30 years as the cooperative’s general manager and retired in October. During that period, the co-op’s sales doubled and the store was relocated and expanded. The co-op successfully launched both a wholesale baked goods program and a wholesale local grass-fed meat program, and it opened a new meat processing plant. It offers a community teaching garden and additional community services and education programs.

Valley Natural Foods (VNF) moved to its current location in 2001 and last year reached $17 million in sales and 12,000 member-owners. VNF is presently engaged in another expansion, to be completed in spring 2018, which will add 3,000 sq. ft. of retail to its existing 15,000 sq, ft. and another 8,000 sq. ft. for retail operations.

The co-op is celebrating its 40 years of cooperative services and ongoing success and honoring Susan for her enormous contributions over most of those years. It is also welcoming its new general manager, Nick Seeberger, who came from Seward Co-op in Minneapolis, where he was operations manager.

In announcing her retirement earlier in the year, Susan said, “Valley Natural Foods has provided much more than a livelihood for me. It has been a workplace with values, a place where the authentic relationships we build and the products we sell support our customer’s health while supporting the health of the planet. I am deeply grateful to my staff (many have been here more than 10 years); to the board of directors, who are passionate about the mission of this cooperative; and to the member-owners, who have made my 37 years here interesting and worthwhile.” •

Here are tributes from colleagues who have benefited from Susan's shared knowledge and cooperative spirit, with thanks to Paula Sahin, Valley Natural Foods human resources manager.

Susan McGaughey’s accomplishments over a long career have been impressive, supportive, and dynamic. Valley Natural Foods has been a leader in financial performance for years. She has set benchmarks that few stores have been able to attain. Her CoCoFiSt graphs are a beauty to behold and tell the story of constancy, vision, and leadership. Valley is now experiencing unprecedented competition, but the graphs tell the story of adjustment and courageous leadership. Susan has been a mentor on many levels, and her willingness to provide assistance and share systems and best practices has been beyond measure. – Margo O’Brien, General Manager, St. Peter Food Co-op, Minnesota

Valley Natural Foods has the best perpetual inventory system I have ever seen in a grocery store, and VNF is still the model for us to strive toward….Likewise, VNF has been a source of innovation over time with their gluten-free bakery and meat sales to all local co-ops. Susan’s comment about providing meats for smaller co-ops was simple. She was just doing what the Lakewinds (Minnetonka) Co-op did for VNF years before. – Mead Stone, General Manager, River Market, Stillwater, Minnesota

Susan served several terms on NCG’s Risk Management Committee and Steering Committee….Susan advocated for supporting struggling stores while holding them accountable for solid performance with a compassionate, no-nonsense approach to communication and problem solving. Susan has been a mentor to new managers in the co-op community and worked with them to improve their (smaller store) operations. She is welcoming, knowledgeable, and accessible even with her very busy schedule. Her guidance has motivated staff and members alike in understanding the lasting value of cooperation as a solid economic model. – Carol Collins, Central Corridor Advisor, National Co+op Grocers (NCG)

For 37 years, our successes have been her successes. We are a cornerstone in our community and the greater Twin Cities area because of her servant leadership style. She has led us through steady and impactful growth via moving to new locations, expansions and adding additional services. Valley Natural Foods has not only seen steady member/owner and revenue growth, but her understanding of the competitive landscape and ability to identify a need has led us to grow through wholesale businesses. – Michelle Nauertz, recent president of the Valley Natural Foods board of directors
Valley Natural Foods - then Community FoodsInterior of Valley Community Foods when located at the Colonial Ridge Shopping Center.
Valley Natural Foods giving back Valley Natural Foods sponsors a 2016 Run for Hope 5K to benefit the Foundation for Early Childhood Family Services. Photo compliments of Valley Natural Foods.
Valley Natural Foods 2018Expansion begin June, 2018 photo compliments of Valley Natural Foods.
Valley Natural Foods 2018 Annual ReportThe Annual meeting was held October 26, 2018 at the Minnesota Zoo. The report includes: The year in expansion, a message from the CEO and Board chair, Member Owner profiles, Valley's Own Bakehouse, Financial Report and Cooperative Community Fund recipients.
2020 Pandemic - Valley Natural FoodsJuly 2020 pandemic, masks for employees, volunteers and customers.
2020 Pandemic - Valley Natural FoodsJune 2020 - Valley Natural Foods open, but everyone must mask.
2020 Pandemic - Valley Natural FoodsJune 2020 - Salad bars must be "packaged to go" during the pandemic.
Valley Natural Foods election2020 Election for the Board of Directors of Valley Natural Foods.
Valley Natural FoodsAlthough Valley Natural Foods still prints their quarterly news magazine, it is available online, 2021.
Valley Natural Foods2022 Egg section of Valley Natural Foods.
Valley Natural FoodsThe second location of Valley Natural Foods following the fire at the Colonial Ridge Shopping Center in 1989. located in a mall on Grand Avenue. In 2000 the co-op was able to buy land of its own, the present location on County Road 11 and McAndrews drive.
Valley Natural Foods (2017)Valley Natural Foods celebrates its 40th anniversary.
Valley Natural FoodsThe 40th anniversary logo. Artwork provided by Valley Natural Foods.
Valley Natural Foods 2017An old newspaper clipping for the opening year of Valley Natural Foods is featured on their website.
Fire at Valley Natural Foods - then Community FoodsA fire breaks out at Colonial Ridge Shopping Center, the location of the Valley Community Foods - January 1989. They were later renamed Valley Natural Foods.
Valley Natural Foods sign on buildingValley Natural Foods signage prior to 2020.
Renee Haberts 1978Renee Harberts at the Nicollet location of the Valley Coop - from the May 24, 1978 Burnsville Current.
Burnsville Co-op 1970sTwo unidentified volunteers/members at the Burnsville Co-op later known as Valley Natural Foods.
Early photo Valley Natural Foods 1977A 1977 photo of Valley Natural foods at an earlier location.
Valley Natural Foods (1976)Customers/Members at an earlier location of Valley Natural Foods.
Valley Natural Foods (2017)Grocery stores are known for their free samples - a favorite Smores. Photo compliments of Valley Natural Foods.
Valley Natural FoodsInterior view of Valley Natural Foods during its expansion, 2018.
Valley Natural FoodsThe new aisle signage following the 2018-2019 expansion of Valley Natural Foods.
Valley Natural FoodsExpansion Update: Week of Dec. 31, 2018

The final touches on the expansion project are taking place over the next week as we count down to our Celebration event on Thursday, Jan. 17. Staff worked together to move entire aisles of product into place on the sales floor. Large wall graphics went up in the Bulk department and the entryway, new video monitors were installed in Customer Service and the seating area, and more local producer pictures will be hung in Produce in the coming days. Additional wayfinding signage is currently being hung throughout the store. Furniture and fixtures are going into the expanded seating area and new Education Room.
Valley Natural Foods 2017The Co-op celebrates its anniversary with special signage throughout the store.
Valley Natural Foods 201740th Anniversary Ad.
Valley Natural Foods 201740th Annniversary campaign.
Valley Natural Foods 201740th Anniversary ad campaign.
Valley Natural Foods 2018Work continues on the expansion of Valley Natural Foods, the week of October 29, 2018.
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