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LA CROSSE, Wis. — Convenience story industry leaders Don Zietlow, Jay Ard and Tony Kenney took a turn in the spotlight Tuesday night at the 39th annual Convenience Store News Hall of Fame awards gala, but all three agreed their honors must be shared with their colleagues and companies.
Zietlow, president and CEO of Kwik Trip Inc., and Jay Ard, vice president of national sales, convenience retail for The Coca-Cola Co., were inducted into the CSNews Hall of Fame, while Speedway LLC President Kenney was celebrated as the CSNews Retailer Executive of the Year. The honorees accepted their accolades at a dinner held in La Crosse, home of Kwik Trip.
Calling him a role model for all retailers, Jay Ricker, president of Ricker Oil Co., introduced Zietlow. Citing his commitment to his family, his company culture and his vision, Ricker said Kwik Trip has done "so many things under Don's leadership." He also credited the Kwik Trip founder with helping change the image of the c-store industry.
"It's a great honor for my wife, our family and our co-workers at Kwik Trip," Zietlow said upon his induction, noting that his co-workers have made all the difference in the company. "Our mission statement is to make a difference in someone's life, and my wife and family are committed to that. I'm not sure if I am worthy of this award, but our people are."
Dave Riser, the 2013 CSNews Hall of Fame supplier inductee and vice president of external relations - trade marketing for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., introduce Ard at Tuesday's event, calling him "a great leader, a great friend and a mentor to many in the industry."
Ard, who began his career at Coca-Cola in 1979, said he never dreamed he would have such a long and rewarding career. "What a great career it has been. You can't make it 37 years without a lot of help," he said, acknowledging the support of his wife and family, and his company. "Bottom line, we are blessed to work in the best industry in retail. I can't thank you all enough for your support, and I look forward to many more good times together."
When it was his turn at the podium, Kenney expressed that it was a privilege to share the evening with Zietlow and Ard, and he echoed the evening's theme of teamwork.
"This is not an individual award, even though I am here accepting it. I am really accepting it on behalf of the 36,000 Speedway employees," Kenney said, noting Speedway is "on the threshold of creating a new company."
The 2015 CSNews Hall of Fame event was sponsored by Altria Group Distribution Co., BIC, The Coca-Cola Co., Eby-Brown Co. LLC, The Hershey Co., Logic Technologies, Mars Chocolate North America, Old Dutch Foods and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.
The Hall of Fame was launched in 1987 and has recognized convenience store industry pioneers and innovators from retailer and supplier companies of all sizes. While the Hall of Fame honors individuals for their lifetime of service to the industry, the Retailer Executive of the Year award recognizes a retailer executive who exemplifies leadership, business acumen, dedication to the industry, and commitment to community service.
For profiles of this year's honorees, look in the December issue of Convenience Store News.