Feel the Power

Convenience Store Decisions is proud this month to present our Power 25 issue. The Power 25 recognizes industry pioneers, association executives and manufacturers that shape the way the convenience store industry operates.

These prominent leaders were selected for the lasting contributions they have made to the convenience channel and the impact their influence has on shaping the future of convenience retailing. The list ranges from leading retailers that have guided companies to national prominence and the suppliers and wholesalers that support them, to the association executives that valiantly defend the industry through their lobbying efforts for fair and balanced legislation.

The Power 25 is an impressive honor because the executives and the companies they represent are selected directly by the hardworking professionals that make this industry so special.

Each member of the Power 25 demonstrates extraordinary vision in shaping their companies’ future and exudes confidence in their ability to satisfy their customers’ needs, whether it’s a fresh sandwich at 11 p.m. or a warm smile with their morning coffee. Plus, each leader is quick to deflect attention from themselves in order to focus on their loyal customers and the outstanding work done every day by their dedicated employees.

"The industry has been very good to us," said Scott Hartman, president and CEO of Rutter’s Farm Stores. "It would be easy to build stores and not give anything back, but I feel it’s my responsibility to be thankful for what we have and give back to the industry where it’s needed."


Embracing New Opportunities

On a personal note, I’d like to thank everyone in the industry for their support and friendship, especially the encouragement of CSD’s new parent company, Harbor Communications. Under Group Publisher Tom McIntyre and Publisher John Petersen, CSD is in great hands, and I appreciate their unwavering commitment to growing the business and providing the industry the very best editorial product it so richly deserves.

As 2008 draws to a close, we are seeing the end of a tumultuous year that began with unprecedented fuel prices and ends mired in a recession. Along the way, operators battled credit card fees, tobacco taxes and decreased credit lines.

Our next issue will coincide with the inauguration of a new President, a new Congress and surely a host of new measures that will impact the convenience store and petroleum business. Some, like the Credit Card Fair Fee Act might actually be good for the industry. Most, such as the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) and regulation of the tobacco industry by the Food and Drug Administration, could have lasting ramifications and have retailers extremely concerned over tobacco’s viability as a profit center.

The expansion of the SCHIP program is a top priority for the Democrats and may result in the single largest tax increase on one industry’s products in the history of the U.S. "With President-Elect Obama a supporter of SCHIP expansion, the possibility of a tobacco tax increase to fund the expansion looms even larger," said Tom Briant, executive director of the National Association of Tobacco Outlets (NATO).

Enacted in 1997, SCHIP provides federal money to states to subsidize health insurance for children from families with low incomes. In 2007, the Democrats twice passed a bill expanding SCHIP by $35 billion, only to have President Bush veto the legislation both times. Two attempts by the House to override the vetoes failed.

To fund the $35 billion expansion, the 2007 SCHIP bills proposed large increases in the federal cigarette and tobacco excise tax rates. These higher tax rates ranged from a 156% increase in the cigarette tax up to a 6,000% rise in the tax on large cigars. With friends like this in Congress, it’s no wonder the credit card companies refuse to show this industry any respect. Who’s going to stop them?


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