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DALLAS -- Jim Keyes, president and CEO of convenience store giant 7-Eleven Inc., was inducted Tuesday night into the Convenience Store Industry Hall of Fame as this year’s retailer honoree at a dinner event held by Convenience Store News in the chain’s hometown of Dallas. Mike Irish, formerly director of trade relations at Philip Morris USA, was also inducted as the supplier honoree with the award for customer service and leadership.
The honorees were voted upon by a Blue Ribbon panel of 45 retail industry executives comprised of past Hall of Fame inductees, members of the Convenience Store News Editorial Advisory Board and other esteemed industry leaders. Convenience Store News has had the honor for the past 19 years of hosting the Convenience Store Industry Hall of Fame to recognize individual and company innovation and excellence, as well as laudable industry and community service.
Keyes told the assembled guests -- an intimate gathering of former Hall of Fame inductees and leading retailers and suppliers -- that he was "really proud to be a retailer," and added that "the convenience industry is really one for all, all for one. It’s an industry that is really coalescing together. It’s convenience against all other retail, and the convenience industry is in the best position today as the only retail channel that consumers come into on an everyday basis."
The Hall of Fame Blue Ribbon Panel used words such as "innovation," "competitive spark" and "forward-thinking" to describe Keyes’s fresh leadership approach, which has been a boon to the entire industry.
As steward of the world’s largest and most recognized convenience store brand, Keyes’s business philosophy and outlook was shaped by the varied positions he held over his very successful career, 20 years of which have been with 7-Eleven. Prior to being named president and CEO in 2000, Keyes was CFO and more recently executive vice president and COO. He has served on the board of directors since 1998. His early career at 7-Eleven was focused on gasoline business. Prior to joining 7-Eleven, he held various field and corporate management positions at Gulf Oil Corp.
In addition to his professional life, Keyes is founding chairman of Education is Freedom, a public charity dedicated to helping hard working young people reach their full potential through higher education. He also serves on the boards of Students in Free Enterprise, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Latino Initiatives for the Next Century and the Boys and Girls Club. Keyes is also on the board of directors of the National Association of Convenience Stores.
Supplier honoree Michael Irish has been the ubiquitous representative of Philip Morris USA in the convenience store industry, serving as the director of trade relations since 1989 prior to his retirement last year. The Hall of Fame Blue Ribbon Panel voted overwhelmingly to recognize Irish for his years of dedication to the industry, his exemplary customer service and leadership he displayed over the years supporting the industry’s rights as responsible retailers of tobacco products.
Irish was described by Blue Ribbon panelists as "fair minded," "a man who gets things done" and a "true professional with integrity." Prior to 1989, he served as director of government affairs and manager of public affairs with Philip Morris. Before joining the company, he worked for the Glass Packaging Institute and the Council of State Governments. He is currently director of trade development for PREHoldings, one of the most advanced prepaid networks in the country, based in Norcross, Ga.
Also during the event, Children’s Miracle Network presented its retailer of the year award to the Midwest division of Circle K convenience stores, which raised more than $500,000 for the charity in its most recent fund-raising drive. CMN’s Clark Sweat and Chance Weaver presented the award to Circle K’s Mark Novak.
The Convenience Store Industry Hall of Fame reception and dinner was held at the HotelCrescent Club at the Hotel Crescent Court in Dallas. Sponsors of the event included Children’s Miracle Network; Duke Convenience Group; The Hershey Co.; Hilex Poly Co.; Kraft Foods; Ruiz Foods; and U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co.
For more coverage of the event, see the upcoming Convenience Store News Show Dailies at NACS and the December 19 issue, which will feature an exclusive interview with Jim Keyes.