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When and why did you first join the convenience industry?
Although I did not see the significance at the time, ironically I started in the c-store industry on April Fools Day. After being bypassed for a promotion at the American Management Association, I answered an ad in the Syracuse Journal and joined Reinhardt Oil as its accounting controller.
What made you stay?
Being promoted three times in two years convinced me there was a good future for a hard worker in the convenience store industry.
What is the most remarkable thing you've experienced while in the industry?
The generosity of those in the industry, both with their willingness to share critical and hard-earned business knowledge, as well as raising millions of dollars for worthy charities -- indeed remarkable!
What is one of the funniest things you've seen in the industry over the years?
A 73-year-old "Miss Helen," owner of a rural c-store in Georgia, who was sick and tired of being robbed, bought a pistol and shot the cash register, window and ceiling to thwart the next robbery. Upon hearing the police urging her to go home and rest afterward, Miss Helen said, "Hell no, I still got three bullets left!"
In what ways has the industry changed during your time that you didn't anticipate?
The industry has gone from very much "seat of the pants" style management to a very analytical and absolutely professional type management that is full of checks and balances.
What has been the biggest change you have seen in the industry since you started?
There's so much more sophistication than I ever dreamed possible -- stores with chandeliers, real cappuccino machines, internet cafes. Talk about upscale!
In the past 40 years, what has had the biggest influence on the c-store industry?
Sadly, the change in fuel price volatility brought on by instituting a "futures market" for speculators and aided greatly by the lack of investment, for whatever reason, in the U.S. in refining and drilling, which has resulted in a greater loss of our independence.
What c-store product (from past or present) do you like the most?
For my money, you'll never find products that will improve on a fountain Coke and a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup -- with that combo I'm good for another 10 years!
What c-store product (from past or present) do you dislike the most?
Green Oil does not sell adult magazines and other adult products, but those products in c-stores diminishes our hard earned image a bit.
If you were to open your own chain of c-stores, what would you name them?
Perhaps "The Slippery Slope!"
What is the most interesting c-store name you've seen over the years?
Being a huge baseball fan and having the privilege of working in Cooperstown, N.Y., I'm stuck on the name "Short Stop." Its double meaning covers it all for me.
Which business person in the industry do you most admire?
While there are so many great industry leaders who I truly admire, I had the great privilege of being hired and mentored by my friend and Convenience Store News' Hall of Fame member Robert E. "Bob" Seng. There will never be another, he is such a great teacher!
Do you have a memory or fun anecdote to share? Visit the Spare Change blog section dedicated to the past 40 years in convenience retailing by clicking here.