LAS VEGAS — The 2022 NACS Show opened on Saturday at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Education sessions, networking opportunities, products from 1,200-plus companies, and more are on tap for attendees over the course of the four-day event.
“Last year, it was important to demonstrate how we are resilient and support each other and that led to the ‘We Got This!’ theme. This year, we heard loud and clear that our industry can’t wait to innovate and find new ideas, so the theme is ‘Full Speed Ahead,’” said Jeff Lenard, vice president of strategic industry initiatives for NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing.
With a show floor of approximately 420,000 net square feet and more than 1,200 exhibitors, this year’s expo will be bigger than last year’s show — on par with its pre-COVID size.
What enthusiastic NACS Show attendees will discover are products and services from vendors representing six categories: Merchandise; Candy & Snacks; Technology; Facility Development & Store Operations; Fuel Equipment & Services; and Food Equipment & Foodservice Programs.
They will also find:
- The Cool New Products Preview Room featuring novelties, trends and must-haves;
- New Exhibitor Area where attendees can engage with the latest technology, products and companies entering the convenience store market;
- 45-plus education sessions designed to deliver relevant and stimulating content; and
- Four hands-on training workshops created to help solve challenges unique to the industry’s smaller operators.
Leading for Tomorrow, Today
While this year’s show kicked off with a series of education sessions covering a variety of topics vital to the convenience store industry, NACS President and CEO Henry Armour focused on a narrower topic during the opening general session: leadership.
"Everything we do as businesses, and as an industry, begins with leadership," he said, going on to list several issues for which c-store operators and other members of the industry can serve as leaders, including advocacy for swipe fee reform, the future of mobility, and ways of building and serving the community.
As the c-store industry continues to recover and build on lessons learned during the pandemic, the NACS Show remains "the greatest show on earth," Armour said.
The opening general session also featured Scott Stratten, award-winning keynote speaker and founder and partner of UnMarketing, a firm that focuses on community-building and connections over traditional marketing tactics. Describing convenience stores as "the cornerstone of the community," he advised audience members on how to retain and inspire employees during a humorous but insightful presentation.
Stratten noted that many younger employees who often make up the frontline workforce will view their role as an honest day's work, but not as a career, which is OK but good leaders can demonstrate to them how the industry can be more than just a job.
He encouraged leaders to focus on three words: stop, start and continue.
"Ask the people who work for you what should we stop? What should we start? What should we continue?" Stratten said. This requires the ability to encourage honesty, which may in turn require anonymity. The important thing is that leaders should be ready to hear what employees think, not just what they want to hear.
Stratten stressed that "the front line is the bottom line in this business" and described how company culture is driven from the top down, but felt from the bottom up. Taking the time to make employees feel heard, valued and supported can turn what might have been a short-term job into something of long-term value for both the employee and the company.
"Lots of people here didn't think they would stay long term, but stayed because of what people showed you," he said. "It will blow your mind what you get from people if they trust you."