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High Performance

Hy-Vee automates its fuel management process at more than 100 stores in a year

For nearly a decade, Hy-Vee Inc. searched far and wide to locate the best fuel management system possible. While managing its fuel business manually, the retailer occasionally suffered from lost orders, meaning gasoline never showed up on-site during such occasions.

Although the Des Moines, Iowa-based convenience store and grocery retailer knew it had to convert to automated fuel software, selecting the right service proved to be a daunting challenge. Hy-Vee finally found the right partner in FuelQuest Inc. and got the results it was seeking. The results have been so impressive, in fact, that Hy-Vee was chosen as the winner of this year’s Convenience Store News Outstanding Tech Implementation Award.

Initially, Hy-Vee decided to implement FuelQuest’s FMS and ForeSite SV products at five convenience stores and gas stations. Last year, it expanded the fuel management technology to 111 locations.

Hy-Vee Fuel Purchasing Specialist Joe Weber told CSNews that he likes FuelQuest’s product because it has nearly eliminated retains; reduced run-outs by a hefty percentage; lowered fuel costs via best-practice fuel management; reduced short load feeds nearly 50 percent; and improved carrier efficiency and reaction time.

“Hy-Vee is honored to receive the 2013 Outstanding Tech Implementation Award from CSNews,” Weber said. “FuelQuest’s software allows us to grow at a rapid pace without additional operational costs.”

FuelQuest’s software is utilized by many c-store chains — including CHS Inc.’s Cenex network and Roady’s Truck Stops — that have subsequently reported excellent results. But the technology provider shined a spotlight specifically on Hy-Vee by nominating the c-store operator for the CSNews Outstanding Tech Implementation Award for several reasons.

“Hy-Vee is very progressive and always thinks ahead in terms of automation and how to run a very efficient supply chain,” explained David Zahn, vice president of marketing at Houston-based FuelQuest.

Hy-Vee is so efficient in its fuel management operations that only two employees oversee the operation, one of whom is Weber. “We are still amazed every day that we were able to grow from a handful of fuel stations to 111 with the amount of staff we have,” the fuel purchasing specialist noted. “This is a testament to the effectiveness of the FMS solution.”

Since utilizing FuelQuest’s software, Hy-Vee has enjoyed other benefits as well, according to Zahn. “Getting a [fuel] invoice right is really hard,” he said. “Fuel contracts are very complex, freight contracts are very complex, and taxes are very complex. Hy-Vee has even automated the invoice recognition process.”

FuelQuest’s software provides the c-store chain with one final benefit. “Fuel costs are highly volatile,” said Zahn. “Since 2004, price swings of 3 cents or higher have happened almost half the time. Automation is required to determine the right time to deliver fuel, how much to purchase and at what cost. If [Hy-Vee] didn’t use FMS and ForeSight SV, it could very well be at a disadvantage in terms of margin and the ultimate price at the pump.”

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