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    25 Years of Leadership: 2007 to 2010

    CSNews marks the 25th anniversary of its Hall of Fame with a special look at past inductees.

    By Don Longo, Convenience Store News

    On Sept. 29, 1987, at the NACS Show in Toronto, Chester Cadieux became the first retailer inductee to enter the Convenience Store Industry Hall of Fame, sponsored by Convenience Store News.

    As we reported then, it was a fitting tribute to the founder, president and chairman of then-248-store QuikTrip Corp., based in Tulsa, Okla. On that day, Cadieux, a man who had helped shape the convenience store industry for the previous 30 years, became the first in a long line of industry luminaries whose collective entrepreneurship, management style, vision and leadership have forged today's $574-billion convenience store industry.

    On this, the 25th anniversary of the CSNewsConvenience Store Industry Hall of Fame program, we thought it appropriate to pay homage to our previous inductees and recount some of the highlights of the past quarter-century history of the Hall of Fame program.

    Here, we look back on the honorees from 2007 to 2010.

    2007: Alain Bouchard, Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc.

    Alain Bouchard Tom Trader

    In 2007, Alain Bouchard, chairman, president and CEO of Alimentation Couche-Tard, the largest chain of company-operated convenience stores in North America, and Tom Trader, the former head of industry relations for R.J. Reynolds, the second-largest tobacco supplier to the c-store industry, were inducted into the Hall of Fame in Montreal.

    Bouchard, who began his career as an interim store manager for a Canadian dairy company in 1968, soon became supervisor and district director for the company. From 1973 to 1976, he supervised the opening of 70 Provi-Soir convenience stores for Provigo, and he eventually opened the first Couche-Tard convenience store.

    Under Bouchard's leadership, Laval, Quebec-based Couche-Tard grew through a dazzling series of acquisitions, including the Perrette and Provi-Soir stores of Bouchard's earlier days, other Canadian chains and numerous U.S. properties, including Dairy Mart. The biggest purchase occurred in 2003, when the company acquired the American c-store chain Circle K, landing more than 1,600 corporate stores in 16 states. Since then, the company continues to make headlines with its breathtaking appetite for acquisitions in the United States.

    At the time of Bouchard's induction, Couche-Tard operated a network of 5,615 convenience stores, 3,444 of which include motor fuel dispensing, located in nine large geographic markets, including six in the United States covering 29 states and three in Canada covering six provinces. Today, it operates the largest number of U.S. company-operated stores.

    On the supplier side, Trader served as R.J. Reynolds' longtime director of trade relations, contributing many years of service to NACS on its supplier committees. In 2005, he was the recipient of the NATO Pinnacle Award and served on the NATO (National Association of Tobacco Outlets) board of directors from 2003 to 2004. He retired in August 2005 and has formed a consulting company with another retired RJRT employee.

    Bill Douglass Steve Wolke

    2008: Bill Douglass, Douglass Distributing Co.
    The Hall of Fame returned to Dallas in 2008 as the industry gathered to honor Bill Douglass, CEO of W. Douglass Distributing Ltd., the petroleum wholesaler and operator of 14-unit Lone Star Food Stores chain, and Steve Wolke, the longtime industry relations representative for Frito-Lay/Pepsi.

    Douglass, past chairman of the general committee of state relations at the American Petroleum Institute and past chairman of NACS, has been a tireless fighter on critical c-store industry issues, speaking before Congress about unfair credit card transaction fees and anti-price gouging bills. For 25 consecutive years, he received the Exxon Excellence Award given to the top Exxon-branded distributors. But for all his accomplishments, Douglass is just plain "good people."

    "We start out taking care of each other inside the company and it carries over to other activities," Douglass said in an interview with CSNews. That attitude typifies the value system of the company, where employees, customers and vendors are all treated like family.

    Like many of previous Hall of Fame inductees, Douglass' life is an inspiring rags to riches story. Douglass' first paying job was digging graves and mowing the lawn at a historic church in rural Pennsylvania for 60 to 70 cents an hour at the age of 14. That background of hard work paid off for the future entrepreneur as he graduated from college and then served as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps before going to work for Esso for 21 years in various capacities.

    Then in 1981, rather than accept an overseas assignment, he became an Exxon-branded distributor after taking over a distributorship in Sherman, Texas, comprised of six service stations and some rural commercial accounts.

    Joining Douglass in the spotlight was Wolke, the well-known trade relations executive for Frito-Lay/Pepsi, who was selected for induction into the supplier wing of the CSNewsHall of Fame, by the same 40-member Blue Ribbon panel of industry peers and past inductees -- one of whom commented on his ballot that "I'd give him [Wolke] 10 votes if I could."

    Carl Bolch Jr. Greg Gilkerson

    2009: Carl Bolch Jr., RaceTrac Petroleum Inc.
    Carl Bolch Jr., chairman and CEO of Atlanta-based RaceTrac Petroleum, and Greg Gilkerson, president of Temple, Texas-based Professional Datasolutions Inc. (PDI), were inducted into the Hall of Fame in RaceTrac's hometown of Atlanta in 2009.

    Bolch joined his family's independent gasoline business after receiving his Doctor of Laws degree from Duke University School of Law in 1967. Bolch is a past president of the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America (SIGMA) and a past chairman of the board for NACS, where he currently serves on the executive committee. As of his induction, RaceTrac had 545 stores in 12 southern states and achieved sales in excess of $12 billion.

    On the supplier side, Gilkerson graduated from Texas Tech University with a degree in accounting and began his career as a certified public accountant with Peat, Marwick, Mitchell & Co. After working in the tax department and spending several years helping initiate the firm's Small Business Advisory Services group, he went to work for Colonial Food Store, serving as the company's controller/treasurer. While at Colonial, Gilkerson oversaw the development of a new retail system that significantly improved Colonial's overall cost structure and access to key management information.

    Upon the sale of Colonial, Gilkerson and a team of former Colonial employees obtained the rights to the software developed by Colonial and founded Professional Datasolutions Inc. (PDI) on June 1, 1983. Serving as president since its inception, Gilkerson has helped guide PDI to be the dominant software solution for the convenience store industry. Gilkerson has served on the NACS Technology Committee, the founding board of PCATS and the NACStech Technology Council during that time.

    Sonja Hubbard Tom Joyce

    2010: Sonja Hubbard, E-Z Mart Stores Inc.
    The Hall of Fame again returned to Dallas last year with the induction of Sonja Hubbard of E-Z Mart Stores and Tom Joyce of The Hershey Co.

    Hubbard, CEO of E-Z Mart, became the first woman inducted into the Hall of Fame, as well as the first offspring to be inducted. Her father, Jim Yates, became a Hall of Famer in 1997. Before receiving her award, Hubbard was lauded for being a tireless fighter for the c-store industry, especially on tough issues such as credit and debit card interchange fees.

    "She is absolutely one of the best lobbyists I have seen in my life," said NACS President Hank Armour, who worked closely with Hubbard when she served as NACS chair in 2008. He recalled seeing countless politicians succumb to her charms, likening it to a spider with a bug in its web.

    Upon accepting her award, Hubbard said she was very proud and deeply honored. "This recognizes so many of you in this room who got me here," she said, thanking her E-Z Mart team, the NACS team and her family for their loyalty, support and brutal honesty. She also thanked her colleagues and friends in the industry who she said, "inspire me to do more and do better."

    Joyce, vice president of customer and industry affairs for The Hershey Co, also thanked a host of others for making his job easy. To sum up his feelings on the honor, he quoted country music star Little Jimmy Dickens who said, "If you see a turtle on a fence post, he had to have help getting up there." Joyce added, "I'm the turtle on the fence post tonight."

    For profiles of the inductees from 1987 to 1991, click here.

    For profiles of the inductees from 1992 to 1996, click here.

    For profiles of the inductees from 1997 to 2001, click here.

    For profiles of the inductees from 2002 to 2006, click here.

    By Don Longo, Convenience Store News
    • About Don Longo Don Longo is editorial director of EnsembleIQ's Convenience Store News, Convenience Store News for the Single Store Owner and Hispanic Retail 360 media brands. He has covered retailing for more than 30 years as a reporter, editor and publisher. Previously, he spearheaded the editorial efforts at a variety of business publications focused on mass, drug, grocery and specialty store retailing. Convenience Store News won American Business Media’s Jesse H. Neal Award for Best Issue of the Year in 2008 and 2012. Longo has won numerous other editorial awards over his career and is frequently quoted in the national and local news media on the subjects of retailing and consumer trends.
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