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Building a Strong Brand

Everyone at CST Brands is focused on growth and its Canadian division is no exception. While acquisitions have gotten a lot of attention in the U.S. market, CST Canada has been taking the more organic approach to growth with Mario Sauvé, vice president of operations in Canada, at the helm.

In Canada, the plan for 2015 is to open 12 new-to-industry (NTI) sites, complete three raise-and-rebuild sites and remodel 20 sites, focusing on renovations and integrating more foodservice.

“It’s around $60 million of investment, just in Canada, so it’s something,” said Sauvé at CST Canada’s head office in downtown Montréal. “We’ve never had that kind of money in the past for Canadian operations.”

Sauvé became vice president of Canadian operations after Ultramar spun off from Valero in 2013 and became part of CST. He’s in charge of the corporate-owned network, which consists of 294 stores in Ontario, Québec and Atlantic Canada (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador). These stores all fall under the Corner Store/Dépanneur du Coin brand, with the Transit Café proprietary foodservice program and Ultramar gas pumps.

Sauvé started with the company 20 years ago as an area manager. His responsibilities recently expanded to include operations for the Nice N Easy network based out of Canastota, N.Y.


With 3,000 employees under his wing, there’s plenty to keep Sauvé busy. Mondays are chock full of strategic meetings. The day starts with the fuel pricing meeting, which is integral to profits in the Canadian business. Then, it’s time to talk about growth.

“In the afternoon, we have what we call the growth meeting. It’s regarding all the capital we’d like to invest in the network, so we’re talking about NTIs and the pieces of land we’d like to buy. Growth is part of our strategy in Canada, like in the U.S. We talk a lot about building new sites, especially in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) because the population there is growing very fast,” said Sauvé, adding that while the GTA is the focus, they’re still building new sites in Québec and Atlantic Canada.

Sauvé also has other meetings throughout the week, including regular calls with San Antonio, and he spends a lot of time on the road visiting sites and talking to employees and customers.


“It’s been really different since the spin with Valero and since we became CST. We used to be a refinery company and the retail business in the P&L was one line called ‘Other,’ just to give you an example. And now we’re the core business, and I love that,” said Sauvé.

“The customer wasn’t our priority at that time, but now the customer is No. 1. Well, we say the employee is No. 1 and the customer is No. 2. The customer is very important, but to serve and delight customers, you need great employees.”

Working with CST in San Antonio has been another positive change for Sauvé, who said he’s already established good relationships with his American counterparts. “They have a lot of respect for our culture. We’re working very closely with them and it’s going very well. My boss Tony [Bartys] in San Antonio spent the entire week this week in Canada, so he’s very close to our market and he understands our market very well now.”


To boost in-store sales, CST Canada plans to expand its foodservice program with help from the cross-border collaboration. They look to tap into the expertise of Nice N Easy’s Cushman, who now heads up the Canadian foodservice team.

“We’re working on a big foodservice project,” said Sauvé. “The objective is to take a certain number of sites here in Canada and implement the Nice N Easy food offer under the Transit Café brand, including the breakfast program, lunch program and also what they call the sub and melt program.”

Convenience competition is fierce in Canada, and the Corner Store/Dépanneur du Coin brand will only benefit by diverging from the rest of the pack. That’s where this new foodservice program comes in.

“We need to find something different and with Nice N Easy, we have the answer. They’re very strong in foodservice,” said Sauvé.

With a new network to manage, NTI sites underway and a fresh foodservice program, there’s never a dull moment for Sauvé and the rest of his CST Canada team.

“The environment is very positive because we’re growing as a company. When I wake up in the morning, I’m always very happy to go to work,” he said with a smile.

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