Succeeding with a Service-Driven Culture

By John Lofstock, Editor From great corners, clean restrooms and modern facilities to fresh food and a wide selection of popular snacks, convenience stores are committed to delivering outstanding service. This commitment is evident in the industry’s growing sales numbers at a time when other retail channels are struggling to break even. This service-driven culture

Succeeding with a Service-Driven Culture

By John Lofstock, Editor. From great corners, clean restrooms and modern facilities to fresh food and a wide selection of popular snacks, convenience stores are committed to delivering outstanding service. This commitment is evident in the industry’s growing sales numbers at a time when other retail channels are struggling to break even. This service-driven culture

NAG Wraps Up in Nashville

Nearly 11 months of planning culminated last month with the successful completion of another National Advisory Group (NAG) Conference in Nashville, which yielded record attendance and an outstanding lineup of educational sessions. NAG is a special group in the competitive convenience store industry focused on small, mid-sized and family-owned chains, and the unique challenges facing

Why Networking Matters for Young Professionals

As the convenience store and petroleum industry continues to evolve, training the leaders of tomorrow is more important than ever. That’s the driving force behind the National Advisory Group’s (NAG) Young Executives Organization (YEO). This growing group of emerging industry leaders is keenly focused on education and networking with other next-generation executives who are facing

Saluting Next-Generation Leaders

By John Lofstock, editor-in-chief

For many years, retail leaders have faced difficult challenges, but none more important than finding the next generation of leadership to guide the organization.

Esteemed author and business consultant Jim Collins reminds us that great leadership is not a function of circumstance. Greatness is a matter of conscious choice and discipline. “Why do some companies and their leaders thrive in the face of uncertainty and chaos?” he said. “When you are buffeted by distraction, what distinguishes those who perform exceptionally well? The answer is not what happens to you, it’s the choices, decisions and disciplines make that separate the good from the great.”

When it comes to choosing next-generation leaders, this analysis rings true. Simply put, convenience store chains must be able to identify and groom leaders of tomorrow. This is not something that can ever be overemphasized. The stakes are far too high to play leadership roulette and hope the problem works itself out when the time comes.
Investments in new properties and estate taxes demand that you have a plan in place to keep the company solvent. Failure to do so could quickly become a multimillion dollar mistake in judgement from which you may never recover.

To highlight just how important this issue is, CSD is proud once again to partner with the National Advisory Group’s (NAG) Young Executives Organization (YEO) to present the second annual 40 Leaders 40 and Under to Watch. These individuals have demonstrated success both in a retail setting and in relating to employees, which is extremely important because retail leadership must be measured outside of the boardroom.

While our goal is to shine a spotlight on those doing great work around the industry, the final list proved to be challenging. There were many nominations and qualified contenders. Undoubtedly, we may have left off some great candidates. I apologize for that in advance. It wasn’t intentional and I hope we can connect with them for a future list. Please feel free to nominate candidates for future reports to me at

The Business of leadership
What distinguishes the good leaders from the great leaders is the ability to get the right people in the right positions.

“If you get the right people, you will get the best outcomes,” Collins said. “When you are facing a challenge, uncertainty, or a question, change every ‘what’ question into a ‘who’ question. It’s not about your strategy as you climb the mountain, it’s who you have climbing with you. Always ask ‘Who will get you where you need to go?'”

The Leaders to Watch list is a look at the executives and up-and-comers at convenience store chains across the country. Our report includes men and women who hold a multitude of ranks and responsibilities at chains of all sizes across the convenience store industry.

These leaders understand that mediocrity is not an option when dealing with the family business and preserving family values. They remain true to the high standards set before them by their parents, grandparents and, in several cases, their great-grandparents, but they also understand the need to evolve and lead the business as it exists today. There’s a difference between values and leadership practices. Leadership styles can change, but you cannot compromise your values.

YEO shares this commitment to preserving values and I’m extremely proud of the work the group is doing. YEO has a long history in the convenience store petroleum industry. YEO provides up-and-coming convenience store industry executives an opportunity to network with NAG members and other influential industry leaders. It also gives young executives a platform to express their ideas, leadership abilities and vision for the future of convenience retailing.

You can access our PDF of the 40 Leaders 40 and Under to Watch here.

I hope you enjoy the list of 40 Leaders 40 and Under and consider YEO when it comes time to help your young executives enhance their industry knowledge.


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Saluting QuickChek’s Culture

JOHN-LOFTQuickChek’s commitment to innovation has set it apart. 

QuickChek has been  a model of consistency for nearly five decades and
continues to be a shining example of the very best the convenience store industry
has to offer. For its ongoing commitment to retail excellence, we at Convenience Store Decisions are proud to honor QuickChek as the 2016 Convenience Store Chain of the Year.

Over the past 27 years, CSD has consistently honored convenience retailing excellence. And while there have been some companies gobbled up in acquisitions, the chains we have honored remain industry leaders, starting with Wawa, the first chain of the year winner in 1990.

While the industry leaders were relatively easy to identify in the early years, over the past decade, we have found that there are more and more chains deserving of this prestigious award every year. This across-the-board commitment to convenience retailing speaks volumes about the hard work and commitment each of you makes every day to convenience retailing. So while we honor QuickChek in 2016, this is very much an opportunity to celebrate the work being done by the entire industry.

The QuickChek story began in 1888 when Durling Farms was founded to serve the central New Jersey region. Over the next 79 years, the Durling Farms brand grew to become synonymous with high-quality milk and dairy products delivered fresh to customers’ doors.

In 1967, Carlton Durling founded QuickChek convenience stores to ensure that loyal Durling Farms customers had a neighborhood-shopping destination not only for their milk but for a full range of deli and grocery products. QuickChek has grown to be the market leader in the New Jersey and New York metropolitan area through innovation and its focus on fresh food and coffee, fast fuel and friendly people. Today, the company operates 147 stores, including 10 with full-service pharmacies and employs 4,000 men & women in the two states.

Always Improving
When I asked Dean Durling, QuickChek’s president and CEO to describe who QuickChek is, he said it was a company rooted in the tradition of serving customers and employees and one that was constantly evolving. This service-first culture has been cemented in its corporate motto: Total Customer Dedication.

In fact, throughout out the process of vetting QuickChek for Chain of the Year, I learned that customers are truly driving the innovation for which the company is being recognized. Consider its sandwiches and made-to-order foodservice program. Customers asked for it. Developing self-checkout lanes, mobile apps and a coffee freshness guarantee? You guessed it, customers asked for it. They asked, QuickChek delivered.

As with foodservice, when other chains were looking to invest in emerging retail technology, they turned to QuickChek for guidance. The chain was on the leading edge of adding foodservice touchscreens in 2000, which resulted in a spike in incremental sales and a dramatic improvement in customer service speed and satisfaction.

In 2009, the chain again broke the mold in the industry by becoming the very first c-store chain to introduce self-checkout lanes equipped with cash readers and coin dispensers. Today, QuickChek Fast Lanes are in more than 40 stores. Speed and convenience again took center stage earlier this year with the rollout of the QuickChek mobile ordering app. Customers can order freshly-prepared foods through the app and pick up their order at any of the chain’s 147 stores seven days a week.

As I have detailed, QuickChek is keenly focused on service. Its corporate mission is strictly to be “A Great Place To Work, A Great Place To Shop And A Great Place To Invest,” and it shows. QuickChek enjoys the distinction of being named one of the best companies to work for in both New Jersey and New York State for the past five years. Its commitment to employees is a major reason why store employee turnover is among the industry’s lowest at just 40%.





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