Nice Guys Do Finish First

Congratulations to Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes, Convenience Store Decisions’ 2009 Convenience Store Chain of the Year.

The Chain of the Year award remains the oldest and most prestigious award in the industry. This year is our 20th anniversary of presenting the distinction to a deserving chain and we’re honored to have recognized some of the most revered companies in the industry including Wawa, Sheetz, QuikTrip, Speedway SuperAmerica, Valero, 7-Eleven and Chevron.

Nice N Easy, like all these chains above, is a worthy winner. The upstate N.Y. chain has 83 corporate and franchised stores, outstanding leadership that begins with founder, President and CEO John MacDougall and is passed on through his top lieutenants Fran Duskiewicz, Dr. Jack Cushman, Matt Paduano and Peter Tamburro.

During our due diligence phase in selecting this year’s award winner the one thing that stuck out both in talking with the folks from Nice N Easy and others in the industry is the contagious culture the company has created internally that quite literally permeates out to the customers it serves.

Nice N Easy customers are among the most loyal in the industry. That culture is passed on by frontline employees who are as loyal to Nice N Easy as they are to the customers they serve. This intimate relationship has been nurtured from year to year for more than a generation, and it’s what makes Nice N Easy a truly special chain.

Always Improving
The company is not one to rest on its accomplishments. It markets a strong foodservice program, fresh produce and vegetables and an expanded selection of traditional and frozen grocery items. It’s also rolling out an elegant new store design to sell all this stuff and make its customers feel welcome.

As I mentioned, employees drive the success of the company. Store managers and district managers at Nice N Easy represent the best of the best and they share their wisdom with frontline employees every day, and it really shows. During my surprise visits to six or seven Nice N Easy stores, not once did I fail to get greeted when I walked in the door by an employee that actually seemed to care how I was doing. While others pay lip service to this customer interaction, Nice N Easy stays true to its Mission Statement: Be Nice, Sell Stuff, Have Fun and Be the Best.

To understand how Nice N Easy cultivates this culture from year to year all you have to do is take a look at the longevity of its employees. There are approximately 50 employees that have more than 10 years of service and nearly two dozen pushing 20 years. That says a lot about the leadership at this 83-store chain.

Combined with great service is an outstanding array of products. Fresh made-to-order sandwiches, pizzas and entrees are marketed under the Easy Street Eatery brand and supported with a line of fresh-baked breads, cookies, muffins and doughnuts. The program is constantly expanding to include unique and innovative offerings, such as healthy low-fat meal solutions, fresh fruit and locally grown vegetables that are served in on the go containers ensuring that no foodservice customer go unserved or bored with the fresh food selection.

Complementing this food offering is an extensive line of hot and cold beverages that includes gourmet coffees, cappuccinos and teas, along with an expansive cold vault featuring all the energy drinks, bottled water, juice and soda brands you would expect at your local convenience store.

In short, Nice N Easy seems to be all things to all people 4,000 square feet at a time. Please join me once again in congratulating a great chain marked by the outstanding leadership you would expect from a Chain of the Year.

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