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LAS VEGAS -- The industry turned out in force last night to celebrate technology achievement and fondly remember two of its biggest champions at the first-ever PCATS/Convenience Store News Technology Leadership Awards and Hall of Fame Reception.
The first award of the night was presented to Pat Lewis, co-founder and partner of Oasis Stop 'N Go Convenience Stores and the KickBack Points coalition rewards program. Lewis was honored as the Top Tech Executive of the Year, an annual award given to an individual who has shown great innovation, accomplishment and leadership in the area of retail technology.
Lewis serves on the NACS board of directors as the vice chair of the technology committee, and is a member of the Executive Committee. He is also chairman of the board for PCATS.
In his acceptance speech, Lewis said he was appreciative and humbled to receive the award and be in the company of other past winners. He thanked his colleagues and wife, who he jokingly said "have to put up with his harebrain ideas." And always an industry champion, Lewis used the opportunity to urge those in attendance to become members of the PCATS organization.
The Top Technology Implementation Award last night went to Rutter's Farm Stores for its mobile app and integration with OpenStore by Gasbuddy. The OpenStore platform allows Rutter's to offer gas price listings by store and grade; integrate the Rutter's Rewards card into its mobile app; market to customers through the mobile app, e-mail, text and social media; gauge customer feedback with built-in tools; and offer individual stores a custom Web site.
Rutter's President and CEO Scott Hartman accepted the award on behalf of his company. He said he is a believer that "technology will change your business for the better," and added that he is proud to see how the industry is changing in its embrace of technology.
Last night's reception also marked the debut of the PCATS/Convenience Store News Technology Hall of Fame, honoring industry pioneers who advance the cause of the convenience and fuel retailing industry through the development and use of technology standards.
This year, the awards were bestowed posthumously. John Hervey and Teri Richman, who are both largely credited with founding what is today PCATS, were inducted as the first members.
Hervey had a long and distinguished career in the industry before joining NACS in 2000 as its chief technology officer. After PCATS was spun off from NACS in 2003, he was named executive director of the newly formed association and guided its growth and standards adoption work until his retirement in 2009. During his tenure at PCATS, Hervey's guidance and expertise helped develop today's commonplace industry standards, including POS and back-office integration, electronic B2B document exchange, payment systems and device integration.
"John had a talent that was both technology and human based" recalled Gray Taylor, current executive director of PCATs, who presented the Hall of Fame awards. "…John made sure that everyone's interests were served, and everyone saw value in being a member of PCATS."
Hervey's wife, Hettie, and his two children, James and Elizabeth, accepted his award.
After what he called "an up-and-down year," James Hervey said it was nice to have this moment and hear the memories everyone has of his father. "It's a fitting tribute," he added.
Richman joined NACS in 1982 as its first in-house federal lobbyist. Over the course of her 20-plus years with the association, she was involved in nearly every major industry issue and initiative, from defeating beer-gas bans in the mid-1980s, to improving store security in the late 1980s and early 1990s, to introducing technology standards in the mid-1990s, to fighting outrageous credit card fees with the founding of the Merchants Payments Coalition in 2005.
"When you argued with Teri, you better have had a better data pool than her, because she did her research," Taylor said, before presenting the award to her children, Nathan and Katharine.
Nathan Richman said even in her last days, his mother was talking about the credit card fees and what NACS was doing. "It means a lot for us to be here and see her second family," he said.