Bill Kent Receives NAG Lifetime Award for Convenience Retailing

NAG attendees head to Margaritaville for award ceremony, dinner and live music.

By Erin Rigik Del Conte, Senior Editor

The National Advisory Group (NAG) recognized Bill Kent, president and CEO of The Kent Cos., in Midland Texas, with the NAG Lifetime Award for Convenience Retailing.

Kent is the third retailer to receive the award, which was presented during a dinner at Margaritaville, in Nashville, Tenn.

“Like the first two winners of this honor, David Johnson and Bill Weigel, Bill Kent is as extraordinary a man as he is a retailer and a leader in his community,” said John Lofstock, executive director of NAG, who presented the award.

“Bill has been a friend, a mentor and so much more to NAG and to me personally. Despite a busy schedule and multiple business interests, there has never been a time where I called Bill and he didn’t answer his phone. Sometimes it was important. Sometimes it was just to share a joke. Not once did he cut me short. Being a military man, honor and respect are extremely important character traits for choosing friends and colleagues, and I can’t think of two better words to describe Bill than to say he is a man of high honor and integrity,” Lofstock said.

He noted that 10 years ago, when NAG was contemplating what its role would be in the convenience store industry, Kent’s guidance was instrumental in identifying NAG’s mission and creating an inclusive strategy that resonates with convenience store retailers today.

Bill Kent’s wife, Julie Kent, shared some thoughts about some of the challenges Bill overcame after he purchased the company from his father at the age of 28 and set out to grow the business.

“Bill often went without taking a pay check in order to take care of the people who were working for him. He also never allowed him or his people to believe it wasn’t going to happen or he wasn’t going to make it,” she said.

“None of you ever saw anything but indestructible confidence in this young man. You never saw the sleepless nights, the worry on weekends about making payroll. You never saw the real worry in taking on an immeasurable challenge like he did to make the business work,” Julie Kent noted.

“Bill had a passion and a vision beyond what even his closest friends and confidants could have imagined. We often times…would think, does he not know that this can’t work? But he never allowed himself to even question if (the business) would make it. He never took no for an answer and can’t was never in his vocabulary,” she added.

“I’m overwhelmed,” said Bill Kent as he accepted the award. He explained that when John Lofstock called him and told him he had been chosen for the NAG Lifetime Award for Convenience Retailing, his first question was why didn’t he get the first one. “He quickly reminded me that there were two better people in front of me, David Johnson and Bill Weigel,” Bill Kent said.

“You don’t know how much this means to me…I have gained more, learned more, profited more, from this organization than any other I’ve been a part of. I’m on the NACS board, I think a lot of NACS but this (The National Advisory Group) is the organization that has made a difference in my organization,” Kent added, before ending with some jokes.

The evening concluded with a live music performance from a local band.

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