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ATLANTA — Jan. 1 brought a leadership change to RaceTrac Petroleum Inc., and the company's newly named president knows full well he has big shoes to fill.
Billy Milam joined the Atlanta-based convenience store retailer 18 years ago after earning his MBA at the University of South Carolina. At the time, he was looking for a real estate-related position and RaceTrac was one of a few companies that "wanted someone with zero real estate experience," Milam told CSNews Online.
He was attracted to the Atlanta market, and the retail chain had pretty aggressive growth plans in place that would give him broad exposure to a wide geography — the entire Southeast and Southwest. Milam was also drawn to the different types of real estate deals he would be involved in through RaceTrac as a real estate analyst, he explained.
"I wasn't looking for anything long term, necessarily. This was 18 years ago and RaceTrac was willing to give me the opportunity," he said.
Milam began as a real estate analyst focused primarily on the company's presence in the Florida market. Over the next several years, he had the opportunity to assist in developing new RaceTrac and RaceWay locations in all of the retailer's major markets.
He was promoted to vice president of real estate in March 2002, and in the following years was granted additional responsibilities that included engineering, design, maintenance and construction. In 2009, Milam was promoted to senior vice president of store development, as well as given leadership responsibility of the company's RaceWay Division. Then in 2013, he became chief operating officer over all of the company.
Two years ago, there was also a transition at the top. Then-Chairman and CEO Carl Bolch decided to continue as chairman but hand off the role of CEO to his daughter Allison Moran. At that time, Milam added the RaceTrac Division to his list of growing responsibilities.
His elevation to president seven days ago, when former President Max Lenker retired, did not come as a surprise. According to Milam, both Bolch and Lenker had put together a detailed succession plan several years prior.
For approximately 12 of his 18 years at the company, Lenker had been Milam's direct supervisor and the two developed a close relationship. "He has always been a very good friend of mine. He has always done a really good job of letting me know what his role and responsibilities entailed, and bringing me along with it," Milam told CSNews Online. "That's been in place for quite some time."