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HOUSTON — Sunoco Inc. is winner of the 2015 Convenience Store News Fuels Innovator of the Year award.
This annual award recognizes a convenience store industry retailer that demonstrates outstanding vision and innovation in the area of motor fuels.
Houston-based Sunoco is specifically being recognized for its reopened APlus convenience store near Pittsburgh International Airport that features three compressed natural gas (CNG) pumps, one single-sided liquid propane pump and three electric charging stations — the first Sunoco location to offer three alternative fuels.
“It’s an honor to be chosen Fuels Innovator of the Year. It’s something Sunoco is really proud of,” said Drew Kabakoff, director of brand marketing. “Every day, Sunoco employees work very hard to bring high-quality and high-performance fuels to market. And, when we have the opportunity to provide more choices to customers for their vehicles, we take that challenge very seriously.”
The Pittsburgh site, which opened May 20, has been a success thus far, according to both Kabakoff and Mark Borosky, Sunoco’s manager of retail engineering. As for why Sunoco ratcheted up its efforts to offer alternative fuels, Borosky said it is important for forward-looking companies like Sunoco to put this type of program in place and see what the results will be.
“It is difficult to predict the market when you’re entering new territory,” added Kabakoff. “Our goal was to establish a great, dynamic program at one of our signature locations. We will see how the market develops, but we have been pleased with the volume so far. The location looks great and is built to exceptionally high retail standards. There is a real focus toward delivering great products quickly and efficiently to our customers. We are optimistic about the future [of this location] and certainly glad we did it.”
Pittsburgh isn’t Sunoco’s first foray into alternative fuels. It first opened a CNG location in November 2014 on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, east of Pittsburgh in New Stanton, Pa., offering CNG to customers both on and off the Turnpike.
Despite a high cost of entry, Sunoco plans to open additional alternative fuel sites. In fact, Kabakoff revealed to CSNews that two sites have been recently approved to offer CNG by late 2015 or early 2016 in Central and Western Pennsylvania.
When deciding if and where to open future alternative fuel sites, Kabakoff said locations with existing fleets and high-traffic locations are the two main criteria. “There are many fleets in this area and we are giving them a place where they know they can refuel,” he said.
“It’s a win-win for both companies,” added Borosky. “Fleets in these areas no longer need to go 20 minutes out of their way to refuel.”
Sunoco executives will be on hand to accept the Fuels Innovator of the Year award on Dec. 7 at the CSNews Fuels & Tech Summit in Riviera Beach, Fla.