Two leading female executives kicked off
the Forum with an overview of their companies: CST Brands President & CEO
Kim Bowers and RaceTrac Petroleum
CEO Allison Moran.
“It’s great to be here and tell the CST
story,” Bowers said acknowledging the
youth of the newly formed U.S./Cana-dian company, which is geographically diverse and has a highly attractive
store footprint. Bowers talked about the
brand challenges of separating the CST
Corner Store convenience brand from
the Valero gas brand — the focus is on
food, food and food.
CST has jumped into the food truck
business with whoopee pies and ( 1. 5 million in 2013) as well as sweet and savory
kolaches (more than 4. 5 million in 2013).
In addition, its private-label offer boasts
of 185 SKUs, helped out by its efficient
supply chain, which serves 60% of its network with three-times-a-week deliveries.
CST is also working on new store
formats to meet the growing needs of
evolving convenience consumers with a
focus on higher margin items. Forty percent of the new stores are dedicated to
foodservice. And these stores are modern, open and inviting with large parking lots to accommodate more guests.
CST plans to open 38 stores in 2014 —
the most ever in company history.
With a stated focus of “delighting
more customers every day” CST has
invested more in its people. Executive
leadership has to work at least five days
a year in a store — giving them a great
taste of what store-level employees experience every day and leading to many
positive changes in the stores. “Our goal
is to delight more than 600 million customers by 2019,” Bowers concluded.
Moran also highlighted her customers:
RaceTrac serves a guest every 10 seconds and the average shopper shops the
company’s stores three times a week.
She shared the humble beginnings
of her family’s company, which started
as a trackside station in 1934 with 12
stores that has now grown to 680 stores.
“By focusing on our people and our
guests, we’ve strengthened our brand,
increased loyalty and increased revenues,” said Moran.
But many years ago, while RaceTrac
“screamed lowest price with our big yel-
low signs,” this is what you didn’t see, she
said, “employees who worked 12-hour
shifts, often alone, and if the cash/balance
sheet didn’t match they were fired.” Back
then the focus was on low price and effi-
ciency. Turnover was a whopping 286%.
The average store manager stayed just
38 days. But business was successful and
happy employees didn’t matter, she said,
“until we decided to be something else.”
The marketplace is your teacher, Mo-
ran said her dad, Carl Bolsch, often told
her. And around the year 2000 Race Trac
noticed a shift in the industry. Transac-
tion-based shoppers who craved ciga-
rettes and beer now wanted an experi-
ence and more choices for a quick snack.
A savvier version of the convenience store
gave people a reason to come inside and
engage with the brand.
These were all great changes for the
industry, Moran admitted, but Race Trac’s
simple model was different. “So we asked
ourselves, who did we want to be? How
will we compete? Low price alone was not
good enough. We wanted Race Trac fanat-
ics. We discovered the missing element to
propel the company forward: our people.”
So in 2001, Race Trac put its core val-
ues to paper. “Our values defined who we
are and how we work: honesty, efficiency,
positive attitude, respect, teamwork.” But
Moran knew there was a better way, the
Race Trac way: putting people first, a cul-
ture of strong performers, warrior’s pas-
sion, humble attitude, and live for fun ev-
ery day. These core values are referenced
in every meeting and every decision made.
Race Trac soon went from 95 hours in
training back in 2000, with a focus on
inventory and the goal to sell more gas,
to today’s 570 hours of training with a
focus on people and guests, and the goal
to be the convenience store of choice. A
business re-alignment, from a traditional model to a more collaborative model,
enhanced the vision.
Moran said that by “investing in our
people, our people began to invest in us.”
As a result, that tenure number of 38 days
for the store manager has now become an
impressive 1,915 days.
Kim Bowers of
of Race Trac
Peter Tedeschi of
Tedeschi Food Shops