CDA Marketplace Highlights Teamwork & Added Value

The annual conference and trade show focused on ways companies can leverage their strengths to face future challenges.
Angela Hanson

TAMPA, Fla. — Speakers at the Convenience Distribution Association's (CDA) 2024 Marketplace discussed leadership, value and upcoming challenges during the three-day conference, which featured curated education sessions and keynotes plus networking and the association's signature turnkey trade show.

"I think there's a lot of headwinds that we'll face. And I like that. I think that makes us stronger," said introductory speaker and 2024 CDA chair Bill Stein, who serves as executive vice president of enterprise growth at Core-Mark International. 

Stein stressed the importance of working as a team and collaborating in the convenience store industry.

"You have to reach in and lean on others," he said. "You'll be shocked at the similarities and the adversity we face together."

During the opening keynote, former NFL star, sports commentator and restaurant operator Joe Theismann shared lessons learned during his football career that carried over to business success. In football, it's normal for coaches to write down the details of their strategic goals, but in life, too many people refuse to do so, he said.

Theismann urged attendees to look beyond past successes into the future. "You can't live on yesterday's performance. Whatever you've accomplished over the last year, it is now. If you're doing really great, it has become the floor from which you move forward," he said. "It is not a ceiling."

He compared life to a ladder without a top rung — "I want to continue to move up that ladder," said Theismann. 

[Read more: Industry Leaders Identify Ways C-stores Can Become Employers of Choice]

A teamwork-focused company doesn't only include those leading the team. Instead of the CEO or president being the most important person in a company, "How about the person that answers the phone? When's the last time you said 'thank you' to that person?" he posed. "That is the communication lifeline to what you do."  

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Value vs. Price 

Value-added selling should also be an area of focus, according to sales expert, speaker and writer Paul Reilly. This customer-centric approach that prioritizes value over price distinguishes needs from wants.

"If [customers] view it as a need, they're more likely to focus on price. Instead, we have to figure out what it is they truly want. Because what they truly want is going to compel them to act," he told the CDA Marketplace audience. "So, the question isn't 'what do they need,' it's 'what is it that they truly want?'"

For the customers of convenience distributors, the answers can range from growing sales to opening up new opportunities to simply having peace of mind regarding operations.

"Value-added is everything you do to something from the moment you touch it, transform it or transfer it to someone else," Reilly explained. "It's everything we do to enhance and improve the overall customer experience and the total solution, whether it's seen by the customer or not."

A company's expertise, reputation, capability, longevity and other attributes all contribute to its added value, which sets an expectation in the marketplace, according to Reilly.

[Read more: McLane Brings Emerging Brands to Online Marketplace]

The 2024 CDA Marketplace also provided a preview of what distributors and retailers can expect in the year to come.

Supply chains are getting back to normal, but the freight industry overall has slowed, noted Gene Marks, author, columnist and keynote speaker on business and economics. "The Logistics Manager's index tells me where inventories are going. And if you look at the trend of inventory, you can see that they're trending back toward a just-in-time inventory management process," he said.

Companies should also be prepared for regulatory shifts from the U.S. Department of Labor in 2024, including changes to worker classifications and overtime rules.

The 2024 CDA Marketplace, held Feb. 26-28 at the JW Marriott Tampa Water Street in Tampa, included two awards presentations as well. Mark Davenport, retired from Core-Mark International, was inducted into the Convenience Distribution Association Hall of Fame for his distinguished career, while S. Abraham & Sons Inc.'s Kaye Powell received the Convenience Distribution Association Distinguished Leadership Award, which honors a member who has shown extraordinary leadership and guidance for the benefit of CDA and its membership.

About the Author

Angela Hanson

Angela Hanson

Angela Hanson is Senior Editor of Convenience Store News. She joined the brand in 2011. Angela spearheads most of CSNews’ industry awards programs and authors numerous special news reports. In 2016, she took over the foodservice beat, a critical category for the c-store industry. 

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