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    CHS: Big Organization, Personal Service

    A company executive explains to CSNews Online why the company will meet and exceed its growth goals.

    By Mehgan Belanger

    INVER GROVE HEIGHTS, Minn. -- In 2007, CHS Inc., which offers the Cenex brand to more than 1,600 convenience stores, saw a record 153 retailers join the Cenex brand family, and while it is remarkable, the company's vast resources and personalized service ensure that there will be more noteworthy years to come.

    There were several reasons the company saw record growth last year, Doug Dorfman, brand, product and marketing manager of refined fuels for CHS, told CSNews Online. "One is we have a new Generation Image, which has seen a really good response. And some of the programs we offer are different than the majors, along with some of the majors' market withdrawal, which has created some market opportunities. All these combined and fell in favor to us."

    He added: "It's all the things together, in what folks start seeing on the street that piques their interest, and what they see in the trade magazines and compared to what the other brands offered. We have a lot of quality programs."

    The 36-month Generation Image Renewal, which was launched in the fall of 2007, has accomplished renovations at 150 locations to date, with a goal of completing 500 sites each year, said Dorfman. The campaign will renovate the entire chain around a new consistent image, modern equipment and color scheme to give consumers what they want in a c-store -- bright, clean and modern, according to Dorfman.

    "It's hard to be unique at a retail facility,” he said. “The look is definitely new for us … it’s what the consumers are asking for.”

    All Cenex sites will see revamped canopies, lighting, signs and pumps, along with a stylish color scheme and the option of installing digital signage, Convenience Store News reported in October when the plan was announced.

    "Our current image was fairly dated, vs. the competition in the marketplace," Dorfman told Convenience Store News at the time. "To support the brand and increase visibility, the new look does that, not only for the consumer, but the marketers selling our brand."

    He added: "It gives a better tool for marketers to sell. Anytime you make a change, the consumer does notice it. If we meet their expectations, it will help meet our end goals."

    For 2008, the company expects more of the same quality services -- including computer-based training, and television advertising and local marketing campaigns -- to help it exceed its 145-unit growth goal, along with its personalized service. "It's doing a lot of what were currently doing -- offering competitive programs, that's a given. Things we do are over and above others, and are unique to us," Dorfman said. "We are large enough to have two refineries and pipelines. It's the added value programs, the personal touches and the resources of a big organization with a one-on-one relationship."

    As CSNews Online reported yesterday, CHS plans to grow the network in major metropolitan areas. Dorfman explained this would be centered around the company's core 22 states -- from Minnesota and Dakota to northern Texas, west to Spokane, Wash., and east through Iowa and into Illinois -- and added that there has been good growth in major markets such as Kansas City and Des Moines.

    While Dorfman could not give a specific goal number of stores CHS would like to expand its network to, he emphasized that the company's focus is reaching for high-quality facilities.

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