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    C-Stores in Spotlight on Opening Day of MAGA Conference

    Retailers, distributors, and manufacturers gather in Palm Springs to address the $850+billion Hispanic consumer market.

    PALM SPRINGS, Calif. -- Nicolas Medina, global standards & practices manager, global convenience retailing for ExxonMobil, and Michael Davis, vice president, retailer services for NACS, the Association for Convenience and Petroleum Retailing, were among the keynote speakers here yesterday at the opening of the 23rd annual National Hispanic Educational and Marketing Conference, conducted by the Mexican American Grocers Association (MAGA).

    The conference brings together Hispanic retailers from across the nation to network and learn how to better serve the Latino customer.

    Other speakers on the first day of the conference included Randy Ransom, chief marketing officer, Miller Brewing Company; Santiago Blanco, assistant vice president/Hispanic marketing, Coca-Cola North America; Jorge Delgado, president and general manager, Univision 34; Raul Anaya, senior vice president, Bank of America; and John Lenore, president and CEO, Logret Import & Export.

    MAGA President and CEO Steve Soto kicked off the meeting with a passionate argument in defense of comprehensive immigration reform that would give undocumented aliens the same opportunities as previous generations of immigrants to America.

    "On November 21st, 2001, President Ronald Reagan said, 'you can live in France, but you cannot become a Frenchman. You can live in Germany, but you can never become a German. You can live in Japan, but you can't become Japanese. But anyone can come to live in the United States and become an American,'" said Soto.

    Medina talked about ExxonMobil's GOAL (Global Organization for the Advancement of Latinos) program and how that has helped the motor fuel and c-store retailer recruit and develop Hispanic employees.

    Davis spoke about NACS' 2006 Hispanic Consumer Study, conducted with New American Dimensions, which showed that c-stores are doing better than a lot of other retail channels at serving Latino customers -- but could still do a lot better, especially with first generation Latinos.

    On the supplier side, Bimbo Bakeries USA, a division of the giant Mexican-based global bakery products manufacturer, said that for the first time, it is establishing c-store routes. Bimbo's West Coast region is already serving 30 to 40 c-stores in California, according to Charlie Thum, independent retailers account manager, Hispanic division, and, if successful, would expand the c-store initiative nationwide.

    The conference continued yesterday with Don Knauss, chairman and CEO of The Clorox Co.; Mike Provenzano, owner and CEO of Pro's Ranch Markets of Arizona and California (winner of the 2005 Hispanic Retail Excellence Award); Dr. Luis Pacheco, medical director of CA Hospital Medical Center/Naturalmente; and Dr. David Hayes-Bautista, one of the world's leading demographers and a professor at UCLA.

    Both MAGA and NACS are also association sponsors of the 2nd Annual Hispanic Retail 360 Summit, being held in Dallas, Aug. 1-3, 2007. For more information on Hispanic Retail 360, go to www.hispanicretail360.com.

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