A Day In The Life Director Of Operations Michael Ursini


It's 5 a.m. and Michael Ursini, director of operations support for The Pantry, wakes up and rolls toward his BlackBerry. After checking to make sure no "fires" cropped up overnight, he gets out of bed, slides on his running shoes and embarks on his daily five-mile run.

"It's my time to process things. It keeps my sanity," Ursini said of his morning jaunts. After returning home, he spends some time playing with his children, ages 3 and 8 months. To get going this early, the non-coffee drinker turns to soft drinks or other beverages to get his caffeine fix, though he admits "loving" the smell of fresh-brewed coffee.

Ursini arrives at The Pantry's headquarters in Cary around 8 a.m., and immediately checks in with his assistant, Pat Cross, to make sure there are no major issues to address. He scans his e-mail briefly before embarking on his day, which varies depending on the day of the week and other projects coming online at the time.

The director joined the company in January 2005 as a district sales manager in Orlando. Prior to that, he spent 12 years with Winn-Dixie. He came to the company through his current boss, Brad Williams, senior vice president of operations, who convinced him to join the small-box retailer.

"The perception is that it's going to be easier," Ursini said of his transition to a small format from a big box. "Everyone thinks they are going to come in with their big-box ideas and revolutionize everything. But you realize there are a lot of challenges. I fell in love with small-box retail, and I can't see myself ever going back."

One year after joining The Pantry, Ursini took an opportunity in Raleigh to become what was then called a division director — now known as a regional sales director. He held this position for a little more than a year before moving to the corporate office in a project management role, and has continually moved up the operations support ladder since then.

Ursini spends most of his days in meetings or interacting with his team and other departments at The Pantry. "I'd like to say the majority of my day is interacting with people, not my computer," he said. His mission is to "be an agent for the 12,000 people in the field," he said, explaining he represents the field in all enterprise-level programs. "It's my job to ask how any initiative will impact them. And what I'm bouncing it off of is ‘fast, friendly, clean,' which is in line with our mission. If it's not going to benefit fast, friendly and clean, then it's not going to benefit us."

Beyond acting as a collective voice for the stores, Ursini works with corporate communications to act as a filter between the corporate support center and stores, ensuring the right information — and the appropriate amount of it — goes to the correct people at both ends. "I make sure we are not over communicating to the field, and make sure stores get the support they need," he said.

Ursini also reviews memos and surveys sent into the field, and oversees a staff who answers calls from customers and stores. "When operators don't know who to call when issues arise, they can call operations support and get pointed in the right direction," he explained.

Currently, Ursini and his team have several projects on their plate, the largest of which is likely the Fresh Initiative — a remodel program for stores with a foodservice and fresh-food focus. He is the operations lead on this project, and at the time Convenience Store News was there, Ursini had just returned from a trip to the field. He was determining the scope of each project at individual stores, and identifying how resources could be best allocated to have the biggest impact, all with the goal to become fast, friendly and clean. In addition, stores and markets are being analyzed to ensure a proper, consistent brand image is built.

"Growing through acquisitions is tough, because we can't simply apply a cookie-cutter approach. We're working towards that," he said, noting in the future The Pantry's dominant brand will be Kangaroo Express.

While around a dozen stores in Raleigh have the complete "Fresh" package to date, the plans are to have more than 100 completed in North Carolina by the end of the year. The analysis of Charlotte was recently completed, and it will be the next market to see changes, he said. Long term, The Pantry plans to have the first elements of Fresh — the new coffee program and hospitality associates — in every store by mid-2011.

Another project Ursini is working on is the development and implementation of a workforce management solution by Reflexis. The first module for the retailer is execution management, which The Pantry is calling the "Kangaroo CARES Planner." CARES is an acronym that serves as the mantra of sales operations, and defines what an exceptional guest experience looks like. That program has the goal of mitigating and eliminating the e-mails sent to stores by the corporate support center, while also acting as a gatekeeper to ensure constant and consistent communication, he said.

As part of the project, the solution will also prioritize store-level tasks. Ursini and his team must order the tasks and gauge the resulting impact, as well as the stores' capacity for performing each of them.

"The last thing we want to do is give stores non-value-added activities so they can't service the guest. Our goal is to increase guest-facing time," he said. "How much time managers spend in front of guests — that's the important thing. That's where we move the needle. "

Other elements of the Reflexis system include scheduling, time and attendance, and reporting. Ursini reports the project will also allow the chain to schedule labor hours by hour, thanks to The Pantry's recent rollout of Retalix and Ruby Topaz point-of-sale systems.

And while the acquisition pace for The Pantry has slowed, Ursini, representing the operations department, is one player on the due diligence team. When needed, he makes contact with the acquired company to ensure a smooth transition and get the field ready by providing training and other assistance. "We help transition new folks into the new way of life at Kangaroo," he said.

In times of acquisition, as well as incidences of natural disaster, Ursini and his team set up a command center to serve as one point of contact for the entire corporate support center. Usually set up in a conference room with laptops and Internet phones, the team acts as phone operators, fielding calls from stores seeking support or information, while also coordinating operations on the ground.

"It's never the same day twice. It could be a very boring job if we weren't such a progressive company," Ursini said.

Ursini usually leaves the office between 6:30 and 7 p.m., and checks in with Williams before departing to make sure all is well. Once he arrives home, he puts down his BlackBerry and spends time with his children until they go to bed. Usually around 10 p.m., Ursini logs back on to work a bit before retiring for the day.

Helping him balance his work/life obligations is Williams, who is a "people person" with his own family. "He pressures me, saying: ‘You need to go home and see your family.' And he practices what he preaches," said Ursini.

"It's never the same day twice. It could be a very boring job if we weren't such a progressive company."

Legal Notice

If you or your company purchased eggs, including shell eggs and egg products produced from caged birds in the U.S. from January 1, 2000 through July 15, 2010, your rights could be affected by a proposed class action settlement.

A proposed settlement in In re Processed Egg Products Antitrust Litigation, Case No. 08-md- 02002, pending in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, (the "Moark Settlement") has been reached between Plaintiffs and Defendants Moark, LLC, Norco Ranch, Inc., and Land O' Lakes, Inc. ("Moark") in a class action involving alleged price fixing.

Who is included in the Moark Settlement?

The "Class" includes all persons and entities in the United States that purchased eggs, including shell eggs and egg products, produced from caged birds in the United States directly from any producer from January 1, 2000 through July 15, 2010. For a copy of the Full Notice of Settlement contact the Claims Administrator at the address below.

What is this case about?

Plaintiffs claim that Defendants conspired from 2000 to the present to limit the supply of shell eggs and egg products (eggs processed into dried, frozen or liquid forms), which raised the prices of shell eggs and egg products and, therefore, violated the Sherman Antitrust Act, a federal statute that prohibits any agreement that unreasonably restrains competition. Moark denies all of Plaintiffs' allegations.

What does this Moark Settlement provide?

The Moark Settlement is between Plaintiffs and Moark only; the case is continuing against the remaining defendants. The Moark Settlement provides that Plaintiffs will release all claims against Moark. In exchange, Moark will provide the class with $25,000,000 from which claims can be paid. Moark will also provide Plaintiffs with information that Plaintiffs' attorneys believe will aid Plaintiffs in the prosecution of their claims against the non-settling defendants.

What do I do now?

If you are a member of the Class your legal rights are affected, and you now have a choice to make. Participate in the Moark Settlement: No action is required to remain part of the Moark Settlement. If the Court grants final approval, the Moark Settlement will be binding upon you and all other members of the Class. By remaining part of the Moark Settlement, you will give up any claims you may have against Moark relating to the claims alleged in this lawsuit. You may be eligible to receive a payment from the Moark Settlement if you submit a completed claim form (postmarked no later than January 7, 2011). Ask to be excluded: If you do not want to participate in the Moark Settlement and wish to retain your rights to pursue your own lawsuit against Moark relating to the claims alleged in this lawsuit, you must formally exclude yourself from the Class by sending a signed letter postmarked on or before November 16, 2010 to the following address: In re Processed Egg Products Antitrust Litigation EXCLUSIONS, c/o The Garden City Group, Inc., Claims Administrator, P.O. Box 9476, Dublin, OH 43017-4576. If you remain in the class, it does not prejudice your right to exclude yourself from any other past, present or future settlement class or certified litigation class in this case. Object to the Moark Settlement or any of its terms: You may notify the Court that you object to the Moark Settlement by mailing a statement of your objection to the Court, Plaintiffs' Counsel, and Defense Counsel postmarked by November 16, 2010. You may object in person and/or through an attorney. You are responsible for any costs incurred in objecting through an attorney. Detailed instructions on how to object are found on the settlement website, listed below.

Who represents you?

The Court has appointed Steven A. Asher of Weinstein Kitchenoff & Asher LLC, 1845 Walnut Street, Suite 1100, Philadelphia, PA 19103; Michael D. Hausfeld of Hausfeld LLP, 1700 K Street NW, Ste. 650, Washington, D.C. 20006; Stanley D. Bernstein of Bernstein Liebhard LLP, 10 East 40th Street, 22nd Floor, New York, NY 10016; and Stephen D. Susman of Susman Godfrey LLP, 654 Madison Avenue, 5th Floor, New York, NY 10065 as Interim Co- Lead Class Counsel. You do not have to pay them or anyone else to participate. You may hire your own lawyer at your own expense.

When will the Court decide whether to approve the Moark Settlement?

At 1:30 p.m. on February 28, 2011, at the United States District Court, James A. Byrne Federal Courthouse, 601 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 191061797, the Court will hold a hearing to determine the fairness and adequacy of the Moark Settlement. You may appear at the hearing, but you are not required to do so. Please note that the Court may choose to change the date and/or time of the Fairness Hearing without further notice of any kind. Settlement Class members are advised to check www.eggproductssettlement.com for any updates.

How can I learn more?

This notice is only a summary. For more information, call (866) 881-8306, or visit the settlement website, www.eggproductssettlement.com. The website contains a more detailed settlement notice, as well as more information about the case, relevant court filings, obtaining and submitting a claim form, and procedures for excluding and objecting. Detailed information about the case can also be examined free of charge during regular business hours at the James A. Byrne Federal Courthouse.

1-866-881-8306 www.eggproductssettlement.com

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