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FRANKLIN, Tenn. -- Two key convenience store/petroleum marketing veterans responsible for growing MAPCO Express are out, CSNews Online has learned.
MAPCO President and CEO James Alligood and Steve Ramer, vice president of business development, were forced out Wednesday, prompting questions about the future of the 240-unit chain.
Alligood and Ramer had attended the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) Show in Orlando. When they returned to their office on Wednesday, an official at Israeli-based Delek Energy Ltd., which acquired the chain last year, informed Alligood and Ramer that the company was reorganizing and that the two were no longer welcomed, a high-level source told CSNews Online.
Lyn Gregory, vice president of operations, was named acting president, the source said. Gregory did not return a call Friday and a woman taking phone calls at MAPCO's headquarters said the company was not commenting about the administrative moves.
In addition to Alligood and Ramer, Alligood's assistant Brandi Webster and staffer Cathy Morton were also dismissed.
"It was a shock," the source told CSNews Online. "James and Ramer were just amazed. They never saw it coming. They had just gotten back from NACS and were then asked to leave. Pretty amazing."
The administrative shakeup comes less than 18 months after Tel Aviv energy concern Delek Group Ltd. acquired 200 MAPCO Express sites from the Williams Cos. Inc. for $147 million and 36 Richmond, Va.-based East Coast Oil Corp. stores for $36.5 million. Interestingly, the Israeli company insisted that MAPCO's experienced management team, led by Alligood, be included in the transaction.
"Apparently, the plan that James and Ramer had put together for the long-term was not suitable to Delek," the source said.
Indeed, Alligood, told The Tennessean, "We didn't have the same long-term strategic outlook. I thought more long range than short range. They didn't have a long-term strategic growth plan.
"We mutually agreed to part ways," Alligood added. "They're not my enemy."
The upheaval coincides with MAPCO's appearance on the cover of the October edition of Convenience Store News bearing the headline: "New Owners, Same Team."
In the story, Alligood and his entourage outlined how the Nashville-area chain had entered into negotiations with several companies, with the goal of growing to 400 stores by year's end, and 500 stores by the close of 2003. "We could have bought 1,000 stores this year if we wanted to, but I don't want 1,000 bad stores -- that's the key," Alligood said in the story.
The chain also had embarked this year on a $7.2 million storewide re-imaging program that began in June and was expected to span 18 to 24 months.
Neither Alligood nor Ramer could be reached Friday for comment.
ABOVE: From left to right, MAPCO's former management team Lyn Gregory, Steve Ramer, Pete Daily and James Alligood. Alligood and Ramer were forced out Wednesday and Gregory was named acting president.