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TORONTO — Two retailers became the first inductees of the Convenience U CARWACS Show Hall of Fame during a ceremony at the 13th annual event on March 8.
The inaugural ceremony at Toronto's International Centre honored retailers who excel, innovate and continue to shape the future of the Canadian convenience store industry. Lumsden Brothers and the Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA) sponsored the ceremony.
Steve Pitts, vice president of operations for Mac's Convenience Stores Inc., accepted the chain retailer award on behalf of Mac's.
The Mac's convenience store brand is a frontrunner in the c-store industry. The chain was founded by Ken McGowen in 1962. Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. purchased the chain and its 974 stores from Silcorp Limited in 2000.
The retailer has been vocal when it comes to beer and wine, site safety and security, and gas theft. For example, Mac's Crime Busters works to raise awareness regarding the negative impact of retail crime, while also building a sense of safety for the community, employees and customers.
Along with Mac's, Jessica Friesen, CEO of Gales Fuels in the Niagara, Ontario-region, was honored as the Hall of Fame's first independent recipient. Gales Fuels is a family-owned and -operated petroleum company serving the Niagara region. From the 1960s until now, Gales Fuels has expanded to become a significant regional independent chain, with a fleet of petroleum trucks, 16 gas stations, car washes and four convenience stores.
In 2014, after five years heading up the convenience side of the business, Friesen was named CEO of Gales Fuels. A main focus for her now is building a sustainable business.
"Being in the industry and being chosen by an organization that is being seen as a leader is incredibly humbling," Friesen said. "The fact that we're a family-owned business is a definite benefit in Niagara. We've been around for 50 years, we have a reputation for being accessible, and for being a part of the community."
The company was the first gas station to offer E30 ethanol fuel for flex-fuel vehicles in the Niagara region. Over the past few years, Gales Fuels has focused on expanding the home heating fuel delivery part of its business. Now, the focus is shifting back to the convenience side of the business.
Currently, of its 16 sites, four have large-scale convenience stores on them and according to Friesen, many of the other sites have the potential for a c-store.
The Convenience U CARWACS Show is Canada's largest trade event, bringing together all areas of the convenience, gas and car wash industry. The show is owned and produced by Convenience Store News parent Stagnito Business Information + Edgell Communications, and is the only event in Canada endorsed by OCSA, the Canadian Carwash Association, and the National Convenience Stores Distributors Association.