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NEW YORK -- Sam Susser, president and CEO of Susser Holdings Corp., the largest non-refiner convenience store operator in Texas with stores in Oklahoma and New Mexico as well, was here last week helping to promote industrial development in the company's hometown of Corpus Christi, Texas.
Susser, who met with Convenience Store News at The Nielsen Co. headquarters in lower Manhattan Friday, also made the rounds to investors, site-selection firms, Susser Holdings' lead bank and other media companies, including The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times and Christian Science Monitor.
"Corpus Christi has the country's largest foreign trade zone, the sixth largest port, the only port in the country that has been EPA-certified for compliance with federal environmental regulations, and is a beautiful place to live," Susser said in an interview with CSNews Online.
Susser Holdings' Stripes store banner is the 13th largest company-operated convenience store chain in the U.S., and the company is also the largest wholesale motor fuel distributor in Texas with approximately 380 contracted dealers.
Susser was accompanied by J.J. Johnston, executive vice president of the Corpus Christi Regional Economic Development Corp. (EDC), and Iain Watt, senior account executive for Development Counsellors International.
The executives pointed out that the Corpus Christi economy has been doing "relatively well" compared to the rest of the country during this recession. As of July, Corpus Christi's unemployment rate was 8 percent, up from 5.1 percent a year ago. That is still better than the national unemployment rate, which was 9.4 percent in July, up from 5.8 percent a year earlier, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
They also pointed out the city's strategic location on the Gulf of Mexico.
Susser Holdings is one of Corpus Christi's largest employers with roughly 1,100 workers in the city. Susser praised the EDC for its assistance in helping the company take advantage of two tax rebate programs (accounting for a total of $2.5 million over five years) when Susser consolidated its offices after its acquisition of Texas c-store chain Town & Country in 2007. The new, modern, retail support center is in a former Walmart and features such modern touches as a workout room and romper room for employees' kids.
The big recent news for Susser was its acquisition last month of 25 Quick Stuff stores from fast-food operator Jack in the Box. Susser was already supplying fuel to 11 of the 25 Quick Stuffs. Of the 25 units, 18 are being converted to Stripes dealer/franchisee stores under a variety of fuel banners, including Chevron, Texaco, Shell and Exxon, according to Susser. The other seven are currently operated as company stores, but there's a possibility that up to three of the units also might be converted to dealer outlets.
"We are a company well-positioned to take advantage of the coming consolidation in the convenience store industry," said Sussser, who joined the company founded by his grandfather in 1988 when it had only five stores. "We've made 11 meaningful acquisitions over the past 21 years."
As a public company with ample access to capital for acquisitions, "we are built for growth," he told CSNews Online.
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