The Worker Co-op Merit Award for Exemplary Contributions to Worker Co-operation was presented to Marty Frost. Peter Hough, who presented the award, warned us that if he were to relate all of Marty’s contributions to the co-operative sector he would keep us all night but instead he would just focus on those specific to worker co-operation.
To the surprise of many in the room, Peter related the fact that that the existence of the CWCF in its form today or perhaps indeed its very existence, is based upon the initiative of Marty Frost. Back in 1989, Marty had a discussion with Bob Allen and Jack Quarter at the NASCO meeting in the USA about the worker co-op sector in Canada. The discussion led them to the conclusion that perhaps it was time to develop a national federation of worker co-ops. After his return, Marty set about fund-raising with the CCA’s membership to finance a first meeting of members of worker co-ops in Ottawa in February of 1990. The meeting was to discuss whether or not there was a need and interest in forming a national federation. The answer from the participants was a resounding yes. The meeting went on to determine the objectives that have essentially guided the federation until today. At that meeting, a working group was formed to develop the organizational structure of the CWCF and to organize its founding meeting in the spring of 1991. Marty was asked to be a member of this group and played a key role in determining the shape the CWCF took.
Peter also noted that beyond Marty’s regular contribution as a director of the CWCF between 1996 and 2009, Marty played another key role in the development of Tenacity Works – The Worker Co-op Fund. Marty along with Hazel Corcoran were the key drafters of the proposal developed by the CWCF that secured the funding for the creation of Tenacity Works. Indeed it was Marty that coined the name Tenacity for the fund, saying it best reflected the persistence that was required for its creation. Marty continued to contribute to Tenacity Works by chairing its Investment Committee from 2000 to 2009.
Besides Marty’s direct involvement with the CWCF, he was also the general manager of the largest worker co-op in English Canada – CRS, which was a pioneer in the natural foods industry in Canada. During Marty’s time as General Manager, the co-op sales grew from about $4,000,000 to just under $20,000,000 along with a proportionate increase in membership. Since 1996 Marty has been a consultant and trainer with FWC Development Co-op (Devco) a worker co-op that provides a wide array of services to both the co-op and non-profit sectors. Through Devco, Marty has worked with many worker co-ops across Canada and been a key player in developing and delivering training for co-op developers across Canada.
In closing, Peter mentioned his personal pleasure in working with Marty, noting that Marty is someone who always has an open mind, who looks at situations with fresh eyes and without limiting preconceptions and contributes creative solutions to the challenges at hand.