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Kwik Trip, Nice N Easy Founders Recall C-store Industry's Origins

NEW YORK -- Two industry Hall of Famers, John Hansen, founder of Kwik Trip Inc., and John MacDougall, founder of Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes, weighed in with their personal thoughts on the growth of the convenience store industry -- part of Convenience Store News’ special 40th anniversary microsite.

Hansen, who now heads Nesnah Ventures, a $750 million-plus business with interests in wholesale fuel, ethanol production, wind-tower manufacturing, human resources, fast-casual Mexican restaurants, assisted living developments and other businesses, listed the addition of gasoline, the use of credit cards and expansion of retail technology as the most significant trends to impact the c-store industry in the past 40 years.

Despite the current difficult economy, Hansen had no qualms about the future of the convenience store business, noting "there are great opportunities. This is a fantastic industry with great people."

MacDougall, who opened the first Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppe on April Fool’s Day in 1980, also recognizes the human nature of the c-store business. "I’ve learned that this industry remains to this day essentially a people business," said MacDougall. "I realized long ago that you had to build strong personal relationships with the ‘holy trinity’ -- your employee, your customer and your supplier."

Asked to name the people he most admired during his career, MacDougall listed Drayton McLane (of McLane Co.) and the Thompson brothers (7-Eleven co-founders whom he dubbed "The Godfathers of Convenience.")

CSNews’ special 40th anniversary microsite includes full interviews with Hansen, MacDougall, and other industry luminaries, click here for the 40th anniversary home page.

Click the following names to view other 40th anniversary interviews:
-- Bob Seng, former president, Busy Bee Food Stores
-- Jere Thompson, former president of the Southland Corp./7-Eleven
-- Alain Bouchard, founder, chairman and CEO, Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc.
--Jim Callahan, Geo. H. Green Oil Co.
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