CSNews' 2017 Beverage Leader of the Year Is...

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CSNews' 2017 Beverage Leader of the Year Is...

By Tammy Mastroberte, Convenience Store News - 08/23/2017
Steven Turner and Rich Jacobs

ATLANTA — Convenience Store News is recognizing Atlanta-based RaceTrac Petroleum Inc. as its inaugural Beverage Leader of the Year. Sharing the honor are Steven Turner, executive director of food programs and offers — in charge of hot, cold and frozen dispensed beverages for RaceTrac’s 450-plus stores — and Rich Jacobs, director of both packaged beverages and tobacco — who also credits his team, including Mary Mamalakis, senior manager of packaged beverages, and Jillian Baker, category manager of alcohol.

“My team is the reason why RaceTrac’s beverage category is looked upon as best-in-class in the c-store industry,” Jacobs told CSNews, explaining that over the years, the packaged beverages segment has become much more complex. “Each year, the categories are launching a variety of new products trying to capitalize on market trends. This brings complexity to the category in regards to pricing, promotions and space allocation in the cold vault.”

With these changes, there is more pressure on retailers to produce higher profits in order to offset the investments in both labor and technology, Jacobs noted. Leading the packaged beverage and tobacco teams, his role is to maximize profitability. He said he accomplishes this through “strategic marketing initiatives, leveraging digital platforms for greater consumer engagement, managing suppliers and negotiating contracts/promotions.”

On the dispensed side, hot and cold dispensed beverages have been and will continue to be a traffic driver at RaceTrac stores, according to Turner. As with food, both quality and speed are two “essential components to growth in the categories.” The good news for convenience stores is they have the competitive advantage of offering variety along with the ability for customers to customize their offer, he explained.

“We want to continue to use these categories to bring guests into our stores and, once they are there, get them to try our new food offers. When we do this successfully, our overall program has experienced great results,” said Turner, who works with the large food and beverage teams at RaceTrac to grow the category and develop advanced food offers for the future.

Turner and Jacobs, along with Foodservice Leader of the Year Ryan Krebs of York, Pa-.-based Rutter’s Farm Stores, will be honored at the 2017 CSNews Convenience Foodservice & Beverage Exchange (CFBE).

Being held Sept. 12-13 at the Donald E. Stephens Conference Center & Ballroom in the Chicago area, CFBE is the only conference and networking event that focuses solely on the foodservice and beverage categories at convenience stores. In addition to general sessions on the overall push to grow food and beverage sales at c-stores, CFBE will feature two separate concurrent educational tracks, one focused on foodservice and the other on all beverage categories.