the brightest in 2006

For the past 12 months, Convenience Store Decisions has showcased some of the best and brightest category managementdecision makers from across the convenience store and petroleum industry. As 2006 comes to a close and the industry gearsup for what everyone hopes will be a prosperous 2007, CSD takes a look back at some of the Rising Stars and their accomplishments. These movers and shakers have helped position their companies ahead of the competition and, in some cases, againstoverwhelming odds.

January: Mary Vinson, director of operationsfor Donnini Enterprises (Lake Park, Fla.)Vinson stands out in this industry. Not onlybecause she's the only woman to grace theRising Stars page, but because in Mary's 17years with Donnini Enterprises, she's learnedthe importance of every aspect of her company—from running a register and managing a store to filling in as thecontroller and handling maintenance issues.

As hurricanes blew through Florida in the latter half of 2005, thecompany faced downed fuel pumps and canopies, interrupted fuelshipments and damaged buildings. But Vinson took it all in stridebecause of a lesson her father taught her. "You cannot worry aboutthe things you cannot control," she said. "You can only do your bestto correct the outcome."

March: David Dill, vice president of marketing, Gate Petroleum (Jacksonville, Fla.) Dill has always been fascinated with the "people aspect" of the industry. He believes havingthe right people in the right positions streamlines operations.

When it comes to satisfying customers atthe 100 Gate Petroleum stores that span six Southeastern states,Dill trusts his company's technology utilization to make a lastingimpression.

"We need to stay ahead of all the trends to see the benefit tocustomers. Keeping our transaction speed up is just one way tomake the customer's life easier, and they remember that."

April: Joe Lewis, global supply chain manager,Chevron (San Ramon, Calif.) Lewis has the difficult task of runningChevron's retail operations in key markets inNorth America, Asia and Africa. It's this globalreach that has kept Lewis abreast of newtechnologies and retail strategies to improvestore efficiencies.

"A lot of my interest is in streamlining store activities with supplychain management. You need it to go smoother at a store to makesure customers are getting what they need," said Lewis.

July: Tom Newbould, senior program manager, Travel Centers of America (Westlake,Ohio) Moving from working strictly in conveniencestores with BP to travel centers was an eye-opening experience for Newbould. He soonrealized the difference: that travelcenters wereexpected to provide its customers—most often the professionaltruck driver—all the comforts of home. It poses a considerable challenge supplying Travel Centers of America's 164 locations, but it'sone area where strong partnerships have played a key role.

"Where c-stores sell single-serve packages, we have great success with larger packages of everything," said Newbould."McLane's standard offering is c-store items, even though we pullfrom all 18 warehouses, they're able to respond to our uniqueneeds."

September: Terry Taylor, director of marketing, The Spinx Co. Inc. (Greenville, S.C.)With 67 company-operated stores and 49dealer-operated units, The Spinx Co. Inc. is acompany where Terry Taylor felt he could growand make an impact. While the companylacks the economies of scale afforded Big Oilchains, it isn't averse to take chances that can yield big rewards.

"We're not afraid to step out and try new things," said Taylor."You get more of a reward for being first if you make the right decisions, but the risk is also much greater. A company this size can benimble. Our culture in merchandising is to stay open-minded. Wemay strike out, but we also hit some homeruns."

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