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LAS VEGAS -- Incoming NACS chairman Sam Turner emphasized the importance of the organization in retailer's operations during the closing general session of NACS Show 2006.
"I can tell you our agenda won't change," he said. "NACS will continue to protect and defend our industry. No matter which issues come up we'll stay the course and fight for what's right."
Turner, president of Calfee Co., continued to state the current issues that plague the industry and how NACS will support retailers. Credit card fees, which he compared to "walking up to King Kong and pulling a hair out of his chest," are costing the industry as much as it is seeing in profits, he said. But NACS is supporting retailers and has made Capitol Hill aware of the issues surrounding credit card fees, Turner noted.
"Through our efforts, both the House and Senate understand just how outrageous these fees are and that the system is broken," said Turner, adding: "The battle against the credit card companies will be difficult and NACS will push even further and harder in the next Congress."
Another industry issue concerns gasoline and educating the government on the retail fuels business, Turner said. NACS was instrumental in the development of many provisions in last year's energy bill, including putting a stop to the spread of boutique fuels," he added. As we've watched gasoline prices top $3 a gallon, we see that politics and sound policy do not always go hand in hand. We have a responsibility to ensure that Congress understands what is occurring in the retail gasoline business."
Turner continued: "NACS will continue to work with members of Congress to develop strategic policies that promote a more stable, long-term environment for retailers and the consumer."
The changing workforce and the increase in immigration also concerns NACS. Where Turner's company is headquartered, in Dalton, Ga., Hispanic population in public schools has jumped from 4 percent in 1990 to 61 percent in 2005. "Clearly, how we manage immigration is a huge issue where I live, and if it hasn't happened in your community, it will soon," he said. "As the immigrant workforce in our communities grows we must be even more responsible in our hiring practices. Meanwhile, NACS is working in Washington to make sure Congress does not turn us into the immigration police."
Turner also spoke of labor issues, including healthcare, and its impact on the industry. At Turner's company, where 75 percent of store managers are women with families, "health insurance is a critical issue to them, and it is to me -- if I expect to keep them," he said. "To compete for the best workers, we deserve the opportunity to provide high-quality health insurance at an affordable price. This will be a priority of NACS in the coming year."
The investment in technology is another focus for NACS retailers, Turner noted. NACS and its technology spin-off, PCATS, gives us the tools to drive costs out of your system," he said. Where he implemented reconciliation technology at his stores, "we"ve got computers doing the work computers should be doing. We've got people doing the work that they should be doing -- better serving our customers," he added.
Most importantly, Turner stressed to retailers to get involved -- in government relations, in NACS products and services and technology standards -- to benefit from the opportunities that NACS membership gives them. "Whether or not you're actively engaged, NACS will be working for you," he concluded. "We will lobby on your behalf on our critical issues. We will continue to develop products and services that allow your people to work better. And we will continue to find new ways to chase costs from your systems and put the money where it belongs -- on your bottom lines."
In other NACS news, the organization has elected its 2006 Executive Committee. Turner was named the 2006-2007 chairman, and also chairs the NACS Executive Committee. NACS retail members -- Richard Oneslager, CEO of Balmar Petroleum/First Hand Management LLC; Sonja Hubbard, CEO of E-Z Mart Stores. Inc.; Jeff Miller, president of Miller Oil Co. Inc.; Greg Parker, president of The Parker Companies; and Alvin New, president and CEO of Town and Country Food Stores Inc. -- were also named to the Executive Committee.
In addition, the organization named six retail members to its board of directors. They are:
-- Masa Asakura, executive vice president and COO of Dallas-based 7-Eleven Inc.
-- Hagop 'Jack' Kofdarali, president of Corona, Calif.-based J&R Investments.
-- Alvin New, president and CEO of San Angelo, Texas-based Town & Country Food Stores Inc.
-- Eduardo Padilla, CEO of Monterrey, Mexico-based Cadena Comercial Oxxo S.A. de C.V.
-- Tom Robinson, CEO of San Jose, Calif.-based Robinson Oil Corp.
-- David Sutton, CEO of Charlottesville, Va.-based Tiger Fuel Co.