Cohen, Rick 2005-02-21

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Rick Cohen talks about his early career working as a personnel manager in Furr’s Cafeteria and the merger with K-mart. He also discusses his own business and the attempt to start a zoo in Lubbock.

General Interview Information

Interviewee Name: Rick Cohen

Additional Parties Recorded:

Date: February 21, 2005

Location: Ransom Canyon, Texas

Interviewer: David Marshall

Length: 01:48:16


Background information on Rick Cohen; Full name Richard Jeffery Cohen; Born January 11, 1946 in Cleveland Ohio; Parents both were born in Cleveland; Father’s mother from Poland and had Jewish background; Mother’s father from Canada; Father worked as jewelry salesman for 50 years; Mother lives in Sunset City, Arizona; Went to school in Cleveland; Grew up liking outdoor activities; Fascinated by wild animals; Went to college at University of Wisconsin; Influence of higher education; Reasons of transition; Competition; Control of cost; Career after college; First job in computer company; Moved to corporate office in Detroit; First management job; Covered western half of the country; 4000 employees; Moved to personnel management position; Working for Burrows from 1969 to 1976; Moved to Texas; Enjoyed the landscape of Lubbock; Nice attitudes toward him; Stayed in the same position from 1976 to 1992; Job description; Designed policy; Worked on training program; Equal opportunities; Lawsuits; Tendency of more time for EPO and ADA issues; 5 percent of time spent on EPO and ADA in 1976; 25 percent of time spent on same issue in 1992; New full time positions emerged for EPO and ADA; Frequency of the issue concerning EPO and ADA; Example of handling a discrimination issue; Background of the company; Started out as a grocery store in the early 1900; Expanded in Lubbock; Became a cafeteria in 1948; Turned into a independent company in 1950s; Expanded to different states out of Texas; Golden era in 1970s; Hardest thing to adjust to Texas; Had hard time communicating with some people; Abbreviated way of saying things; Operation condition of the grocery store; Purchased by a German company in the 1930s; Lost homegrown loyalty; Problem with other companies; Cooperation with K-mart; Expansion nationwide; Under pressure to produce more numbers of stores; Stretched from Kansas to California; Had 140 cafeterias when K-mart sold the company; Personal effect due to K-mart’s takeover; Blended benefit with K-mart; Decision making; Morale; Limited partnership; Transition from a healthy smaller company to associate with K-mart; Lessons learned from the merger with K-mart; Not trying to grow too fast; Properly evaluate the market; Strategy of developing; Lack of alcohol; Early staffers of the cafeteria; Carol Andrews; Don Dodson; Wayne Smith; Executive VP of Engineering Laverne Vinson; Start of the business; Wife’s idea of starting business; Candy store’s development; Created cooperation; Opened Nature’s Gift; Expanding; Test of the market; Natural Wonders and Nature Company; Discovery Store and Discovery Channel; Lubbock market; People’s mindset of outdoor activities; Limited locations in Lubbock for outdoor activities; Change of inventory of Nature’s Gift; Native America music; Special orders; Decoration of the store; Transition from corporate executive to a Nature’s Gift store owner; Zoo part; Indoor body water; Animal replicas; Co-workers; Land across from Wind Power Center; Prospective sites; Preparation to open a zoo in Lubbock; Previous movement to open a zoo in the 70s; Bumper sticker about zoo; Continuity of the zoo’s different aspects; Name of the zoo; Preservation program; Type of zoo; Scope of the market; Marketing feasibility study; Consulting company’s advice; Failure to create the zoo; Short of staff; Support of the city; Animal protection reasons; Convinced that the zoo would not be approved; Distance of the zoo from densely populated area; Other oppositions to opening the zoo; Design of the zoo; Natural landscape; Area of the zoo; Hidden cost; Projection of the maintenance of the zoo; Funded by attendance; Other fundraising events; Seeking state funds due to educational purpose; Support from the foundation for ongoing projects; Recruiting the personnel.

Access Information

Original Recording Format:

Recording Format Notes:

Transcript: No transcript available

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