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LAS VEGAS – New NACS Chairman Steve Loehr hit the ground running, promoting the benefits of offering healthier products during his Friday closing session speech at the NACS Show here.
The vice president of operations support at Kwik Trip Inc. said the La Crosse, Wis.-based retailer sells 44 million pounds of bananas per year, as well as many other produce items and healthy products. The retailer even offers fresh fruit for free to its employees.
In fact, the Midwestern retailer became the first convenience store operator to be recognized by the Partnership For a Healthier America (PHA), which is devoted to working with the private sector to ensure the health of our nation's youth by solving the childhood obesity crisis. Kwik Trip was recognized by First Lady Michelle Obama during a banquet earlier this year.
“It’s a big change from just a few years ago when [convenience stores] were considered part of the problem,” Loehr noted during his speech. “We hope many more [c-store retailers] join the PHA when I come back here [to speak] next year.”
Loehr then surprised the audience by announcing that two c-store chains actually joined the PHA this week, with a pledge to sell better-for-you products. The Marine Corps Exchange and Sheetz Inc. were announced as new members.
“We’re not asking you to reduce the food options you offer in your stores, but in far too many places, healthy choices are not available,” PHA CEO Larry Soler stressed to attendees. “You have a chance to make a difference. Today’s children should not be the first generation to live shorter lives than their parents.”
Healthier foods will not be Loehr’s only focus during his one-year tenure at NACS chairman. The 25-year Kwik Trip veteran said that alternative fuels will be another item on the agenda. The c-store chain opened its 30th compressed natural gas location (CNG) on Thursday in Fond Du Lac, Wis. Loehr stated that Kwik Trip plans to open an additional 15 CNG sites in the next year.
“One great thing about CNG is price stability,” relayed Loehr. “We started offering CNG in 2012 and I believe we’ve only needed to change the price at the pump twice. We could have painted the price of CNG instead of buying a digital sign.”
A GREAT HONOR
Loehr was introduced by outgoing NACS Chairman Brad Call, vice president of adventure culture at Maverik Inc., to kick off the closing session. Call thanked the c-store industry for the opportunity to serve them in the past year.
“Brad Call is a hard act to follow. I hope I can do half as much as he did as NACS chairman,” said Loehr.
Loehr added that’s he’s truly looking forward to the opportunity to serve as NACS chairman for the next year. “I am honored to serve as your chairman,” he concluded.