CSNews Exclusive: Opening The Pantry

CARY, N.C. -- Listening to The Pantry's executive team speak about the recent changes in the convenience store retailer's corporate culture, priorities and in-store offer, one can't help but feel the operator of 1,641 stores has been reborn.

Under the leadership of President and CEO Terry Marks, formerly president of Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc.'s North American Group, the largest independently operated chain in the Southeast is in the midst of a total repositioning dubbed "The Fresh Initiative."

The crux of the project is a new mission statement is often referred to by employees as "fast, friendly, clean."

This mission, along with operational changes, gives a sense of common purpose long missing among the employees of the large, but often underperforming company.

"Employees were eager for change. The more time I spent getting a better understanding of the business and talking with employees, the more I was blown away by the commitment of our people, whether in the stores or headquarters," Marks told CSNews in an exclusive interview. "If there's not engagement, you have a tough uphill battle. But we found a large group of people who wanted to be successful and part of a winning team."

One member of that winning team is district sales manager Melody Haney, who showed CSNews the ropes as part of CSNews 2010 Day in the Life feature. This annual series – to be published in the Sept. 6 issue of CSNews -- shadows a leading c-store chain's employees to gain a first-hand view of what it is like to work for that convenience store retailer. Now, go behind the scenes with CSNews as she visits stores, encourages store sales managers and acts on the "fast, friendly, clean" mantra.

was also granted exclusive access to Marks and his executive team, where they provided an in-depth look at the broad changes underway. CSNews will reveal the more on this dramatic cultural shift in its Sept. 6, 2010 issue.

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