After the announcement was made, Saunders, his leadership team, members of AWI’s board and those on the “special White Rose committee” held a series of “town hall” meetings in Scranton, PA; Robesonia, PA; York, PA; and Pittsburgh, PA with the company’s member/owners.
Several sources have told us that while there was discussion about some of the financial issues facing AWI (the co-op only paid 50 percent of its patronage this year in cash and issued a new class of stock to be redeemed at an unspecified date for an unspecified current value for the remainder of its annual rebate to its shareholders), and members also wanted to know more details about the White Rose pending sale.
Those concerns were addressed openly with AWI pledging to ultimately make the dividend “whole,” but until a White Rose deal is consummated, could not provide more specific information.
Sources also told us that Saunders and his leadership team focused on rebranding AWI. One member noted that management placed emphasis on building a new culture, improving communications and creating a more transparent business environment.
“Clearly, management wants to prioritize the importance of AWI’s future performance under Matt Saunders,” said one member/owner who attended one of the four meetings. “Even though it’s been a challenging year for all of us affiliated with AWI, I think most of us left the meeting feeling that some of our financial concerns are going to be alleviated to some degree once White Rose is sold and new management can focus exclusively on improving business in Robesonia.”