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    NYACS Celebrates 20 Years with a Bash

    Co-founding fathers of the association honored at lively anniversary celebration.

    ALBANY -- The New York Association of Convenience Stores honored co-founders Bob Seng, John MacDougall and Dick Warrender at its 20th anniversary dinner held on Sept. 26 at Joey's Restaurant at the Thousand Islands Club in Alexandria Bay, N.Y., the site of the first NYACS trade show in 1986.

    Kevin Noon, of K&K Food Marts, presented each of the co-founders with a framed caricature titled "The Spirit of '86," on behalf of NYACS. The picture depicts them side-by-side at the start of the new association -- MacDougall carrying the NYACS flag, Warrender playing the drum, and Seng playing the fife.

    The association started in 1986, when the men realized the need for an organization to represent upstate New York's convenience store industry. MacDougall, the founder of Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes; Seng, a developer of the Busy Bee chain; and Warrender, a c-store veteran on both the retail and supply side, was chosen to head the new group that year.

    Two decade later, NYACS is a statewide association with strong ties in the industry. MacDougall is still the president and CEO of Nice N Easy. Seng holds the title of NYACS chairman emeritus and currently resides in Florida where he is retired but still involved in a number of business ventures. Warrender is NYACS' president emeritus and has also served as the New York State advocate for persons with disabilities for the Pataki administration. He is now retired and residing in North Pownal Vt.

    Noon, who was the emcee of the celebration, and the co-founders opened the anniversary dinner by leading a champagne toast, "and things pretty much went downhill from there," joked NYACS president Jim Calvin, continuing that the "NYACS' Got Talent" variety show "could have gotten us sued for false advertising."

    For instance, Dan Finkle, of Finkle Distributors Inc. embodied "Shortie Mulligan," a vertically challenged Scottish golfer that arrives to New York City where a "Scotch tape parade" is thrown.

    "See what I mean?" noted Calvin.

    Lorraine Mikutel, wife of NYACS chairman Gary Mikutel of Xtra Mart Convenience Stores, serenaded the audience with a rendition of "We Are Family." Another Xtra Mart member, Zack Kaplan, narrated a slide show previewing NYACS' 2007 Hollywood-themed Trade Show and Convention that features NYACS members as starring roles in famous Hollywood flicks.

    Bob Seng, a former nightclub singer, crooned "The Baptist Sunday School" and a slew of Nice N Easy colleagues -- outfitted for the occasion in Hawaiian shirts -- sang a rendition of "Surfin' USA" with their own lyrics about NYACS.

    "El Zippo," an aspiring magician, performed less than stellar feats of illusion. In addition, Mark Sidebottom of MWS Enterprises honored outgoing Governor George Pataki. NYACS president, Jim Calvin, even got involved with a medley of parodies about supplier members.

    After the variety show, Noon and MacDougall took the stage in traditional Irish garb while bagpipes played. They honored NYACS volunteer Sherry Wright of Lorillard Tobacco Co., who is retiring this fall.

    Contributing to the success of the variety show production were musical director Mike Purcell of A-1 Entertainment, technical director Case Marshall of Pit Stop Convenience Stores, costume designer Mindy Marshall of Pit Stop, stage manager Ann Ammann of Nice N Easy, photographer Herb Sliter of HJH Associates, archivist Sherry Wright of Lorillard, and production assistants Amy Baldovin and Vicki Morrell of the NYACS staff.

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