Few places in this world bring as much variety for outdoor enthusiasts as Utah. When not at work, enjoying the outdoors is a passion I share with my family. And when we can kick it up a notch and make it an adventure, things get exponentially better. 

On one such adventure exploring this beautiful place, I found myself descending through the Subway in Zion National Park. It was autumn and the leaves were turning, creating a spectacle of yellows and oranges among the sandstone canyon walls. It was my first time on this trail and I was with my more-experienced brother, who had traveled this way before. In preparation for a drop he knew would be especially challenging, he had crafted a ladder from PVC pipe and rope (yes, he’s an engineer, and yes, he tested it off his back deck before arrival).

As we traveled through the incredible scenery, we neared the anticipated spot. We approached with a sense of excitement. We imagined anchoring the ladder, each descending it precariously, needing to balance one foot after the other. When we finally arrived at where the drop should have been, it had changed. It could be descended with a single bound rather than having a need for the ladder. It was hard to not be a little disappointed. But the challenges didn’t end there. A log that spanned a ravine had washed out, leaving a roughly 7’ chasm we needed to cross with water rushing 25’ below. Those who were able leapt across and fashioned a body anchor, securing a rope that spanned the gap, to ferry the others with harnesses to safety. We may not have been ready for it, but together, we figured it out. The thrill of working through it was exhilarating.

In our business, as in life, we lean on those who have gone before. But we also understand that each day, we face new challenges.  It can be a bit difficult to let go of old approaches, or what we were sure would happen next, but as we move forward, we continue to grow together, appreciating each other’s strengths and perspectives. We faced a pandemic, supply challenges, changing consumer demands, a shift towards digital, and a quickly changing world. We lost an incredible leader, mentor, and friend.  

As we look toward the year ahead, it’s remarkable to reflect on all we’ve faced and overcome as One Associated. But we’re not out of the woods yet. In the words of Jon Dorenbos, “you can either let it define you, or refine you.” We will encounter more obstacles; the world will keep changing. And together, we’re up for the adventure.  

Mindy Rich is the vice president of analytics and has 22 years’ grocery experience—13 at retail, the first nine of which were with Albertson’s, before taking a position at the AFS office. (She likes to joke she was acquired with the Albertson’s purchase.)