Greg Hendricks thought it was just a regular day when the vice president of Taylor Petroleum breezed into the Radio Shack where he was working in 1983. He asked Hendricks if he liked working with computers, which he did, and brought him on board the company's pump maintenance team. Twenty-three years later, Hendricks' technology roots have given him a strong foundation as he's risen through the ranks to take the helm as the company's vice president.

"I came on board in our first stage of computerized gas pumps," says Hendricks. "I worked in pump maintenance for about four years before working inside the store for about a year. Then I became a territory supervisor for eight years, and I've been the vice president since 1997.

"It's challenging because you have to handle it all," he continues. "On days like today you have environmental concerns on your mind while you're extracting pumps. Tomorrow I'll be dealing with brand management."

Today Taylor Petroleum (Amarillo, TX) operates 68 stores through Texas, Okalahoma and Kansas and it's continuing to grow its store count while also analyzing its bottom non-performing units. At the center of Taylor's leadership is the chain's reliance and embracing of technology.

"We need to continue to work on our core stores to make sure they're strong," says Hendricks. "Last year we constructed one ground-up and acquired 11 new locations. As you add more stores you need to offset those initial costs with your core stores until the new stores start to hold their own. A lot of it comes down to data mining. If we can control our bottom line expenses, then the top line is easier to manage.

"Technology is driving a lot of our changes," he continues. "We currently have digital video recording in 22 locations and we're adding it to two to three locations a month. It really improves the safety for our employees, and it also gives [our employees] another level of accountability."

Hendricks is also aware that strong vendor partnerships can make all the difference.

"One major project we recently undertook was weighing who should be our grocery supplier," he says. "Compared to some chains, we're small, but we're continuing to push geographic boundaries. We chose McLane because [McLane] crosses into the three states we operate in and they'll be able to work with us as we grow."

This new relationship has also afforded Taylor Petroleum the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a test for a smart handheld technology that will help the chain get a handle on out of stocks


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