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What is the best Convenience Store News headline you could ever hope to read?
"Winner's Selected Most Innovative and Customer- Driven Chain of Convenience Stores."
If I turned on the radio in your car, what would I most likely hear?
An all-talk radio station. I'd probably be listening to Rush Limbaugh pontificate about some innocuous topic.
What is the most recent thing to make you laugh out loud?
My young grandson, Jordan, calling me at work to ask how my day was going. He had just arrived home from Day School and my daughter (our former human resources director) suggested Jordan call Paw-Paw and see if he needed help with anything. Little did he know that earlier that morning we had: Caught one of our retail supervisors stealing; found a glitch in our supposedly super sophisticated scanning software; and received a call that Costco had dropped from 3 to 8 cents under rack.
A four-year-old's voice helped me keep in perspective that it wasn't the end of the civilized world. It helped me keep my sanity that particular day.
What about you would surprise most people?
I used to belong to MENSA. In fact, I recently provided the venture capital for the next Trivial Pursuit-type of board game called Sixth Sense — a game of perception (www.sixth-sense-game.com). It rolled out in February at the 99th International Toy Show to absolutely rave reviews. It's so hot we've already been contacted by a group of West Coast producers about converting Sixth Sense into a TV game show. We carry the game at our Albuquerque stores and they're selling like proverbial hot cakes!
Who would you most like to have dinner with?
Rudolph Giuliani, to talk about leadership under fire.
What trait in other people irritates you?
Indecisiveness. "Lead, follow or get out of the way."
Tell us about a great memory from the 1970s.
Just out of college, I quit my job as a banker to join a group of middle-aged entrepreneurs in the go-go days of the oil boom in Texas. One of the projects they asked me to develop was the acquisition of two lumber mills halfway up the Amazon River in Brazil. Not only did I spend days and days floating the Amazon in a Humphrey Bogart-type "African Queen" riverboat, but I had to travel to the Cayman Islands to set up our tax-sheltered offshore corporation, as designed by Price Waterhouse.
After 18 months of hard work, travel, and extensive, sophisticated tax planning — we went broke in only nine months of operation! What a lesson that was.
What is your favorite way to relax?
Playing a long round of golf with my friends and then spending an equal amount of time at the 19th hole philosophizing about the current state of world affairs while consuming copious amounts of adult beverages.
What action by a colleague have you found admirable?
One of our retail supervisors, Linda Taylor, has developed an "Adopt a School" program for each of her stores. She solicits surplus (a.k.a. free) candy and basic school supplies from our suppliers and has her store employees distribute them to the children at the neighborhood schools, most of which are in economically challenged areas of town.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
What one word best captures your personality?
What is your personal motto?
Work harder. Do better!
Who is your hero?
My three children. They are incredibly good individuals.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Right here in Albuquerque, N.M. — what a great quality of life we have in the Southwest, and we arguably have the best weather in the country on a year-round basis.
What hidden talent do you possess?
The ability to listen and hear what people are saying. With apologies to Will Rogers, he was fond of saying: "You can't be learning something when your own mouth is open."
If you had one full day where calories and cholesterol didn't count, what would you eat?
Greasy cheeseburgers and draft beer.
What is on your reading table?
Tom Clancy's newest book "Shadow Warriors: Inside the Special Forces."
If you could create a worldwide holiday, what would it be?
Grandchildren's Day. Isn't that the reason we put in the incredible hours we do? Why else do we make the tremendous sacrifices required to maintain and grow our businesses? But, in the final analysis, it's certainly worth it.
James J. Conway Jr. is owner of Conway Oil Co., an Albuquerque, N.M., petroleum marketer operating more than 30 Winner's convenience stores, fast food operations, Jiffy Lube and gasoline outlets. Conway Oil also supplies propane, gasoline, diesel fuel and lubricants to customers in New Mexico, Colorado and the Texas Panhandle.
A member of the NACS board of directors, he serves as chairman of NACS' petroleum marketing committee. He is past president of the New Mexico Petroleum Marketer's Association, and former chairman, investment and finance committee, for the New Mexico Highland University Foundation.
In 1994, he was named New Mexico Small Businessman of the Year.