NACS Show Heats Up Atlanta


Annual conference and expo will feature expanded workshop tracks, aquatic networking opportunities and a speech by former president George Bush

Atlanta is set to become the most convenient city in the U.S. next month as it gears up to host more than 20,000 c-store industry professionals during the 2010 NACS Show, to be held Oct. 5-8, at the Georgia World Congress Center.

The 2010 NACS Show will offer more educational sessions compared to last year, bringing the total to 11 tracks and 80 sessions. The tracks were developed so any attendee — from a single-store operator to a chief executive from a 1,000-store chain — can easily identify the workshops most relevant to his or her role and NACS Show goals. Also this year, the annual tradeshow features an additional workshop track called Human Capital.

"The reason we included the Human Capital track is because people are our greatest asset, and how we motivate and inspire our teams to succeed has a direct impact on our bottom line," Stephanie Robert, director of event marketing and communications for NACS, told Convenience Store News, explaining this track will cover interviewing best practices; how to improve relationships between managers and the front line; how to navigate health care regulations and labor laws; and how to create a strong culture and positive working environment for employees.

Each of the 11 categories also will feature a track leader who is the "go to" person for that subject, said Robert. "Their main role is to provide insight about their various tracks and to keep the other team members on task through the development stages of session planning and execution," she explained.

This year, workshop tracks and their leaders include:

  • Executive leadership: Richard Oneslager, CEO, Balmar Petroleum
  • Foodservice: Jim Bressi, director food research and development, Kwik Trip Inc.
  • Global perspectives: Roy Strasburger, president, international division, Strasburger Enterprises Inc.
  • Human capital: Becky Smith, director, human resources, Wallis Cos.
  • Marketing/Category management: Ieva Grimm, operations supervisor, Sheetz Inc.
  • Operations: Wanda Sheffield, vice president, operations, Miller Oil Co.
  • Petroleum: Robert Gough, executive editor, OPIS
  • Professional development: Jay Ricker, chairman, Ricker Oil Co.
  • Small operator: Rahim Budwhani, CEO, 6040 LLC
  • Supplier: Jennie Jones, vice president, marketing, convenience store sales division, S&D Coffee
  • Technology: Jenny Bullard, CIO, Flash Foods Inc.

NACS partnered with OPIS this year to develop workshops for the petroleum track that address strategies for reducing costs, navigating petroleum legislation and keeping tabs on consumers, explained Robert. Specifically, the petroleum track will cover loyalty programs, fueling inside sales from the forecourt, an E15 update, the future of motor fuels and fuel purchasing.

In addition to the plethora of educational sessions taking place over the three-day show, attendees can uncover their next great idea during two general sessions held on the second full day of the show. The first, "Tale of Two Retailers," features the successes achieved at two different c-store retailers, and practical tips for attendees to consider, according to Robert. This year, the two featured retail chains are Kum & Go and Stripes LLC. Representing the companies are CEO Kyle Krause of Kum & Go, and Sam Susser, president and CEO of Stripes. Moderating the panel will be 2008-2009 NACS Chairman Sonja Hubbard, who is also CEO of Texarkana, Texas-based E-Z Mart Stores Inc.

The second general session, which immediately follows the Tale of Two Retailers, is the NACS Show standard, "Ideas 2 Go." Since the 1994 expo, NACS has brought attendees a quick look at some of the latest ideas in the convenience store channel. While details about Ideas 2 Go were still being finalized as of press time, the program typically features unique, creative and profitable ideas in the industry.

Meanwhile, the general session speakers at this year's NACS Show will inspire attendees. Opening the NACS Show Oct. 6, will be Stew Leonard Jr., CEO of the Norwalk, Conn.-based Stew Leonard's grocery chain. The retailer generates sales of nearly $400 million annually through its four grocery locations and eight wine stores, and consistently ranks on Fortune's "100 Best Companies to Work for in America," according to NACS.

"Stew Leonard's practical ideas to build teams, empower employees and continually innovate to improve quality make him a perfect opening general session speaker," Dave Carpenter, NACS vice chairman of convention and events, and president and CEO of J.D. Carpenter Cos. Inc., said in a statement announcing the speaker. "Stew's obsession with serving the customer provides many examples that can easily be adapted to any business or industry, especially as foodservice becomes more critical to convenience retailers."

NACS Show attendees will want to schedule departure plans for late in the day Oct. 8, as former U.S. President George W. Bush is slated to deliver the closing general session speech. Former President Bush served two terms as the 43rd U.S. president and led the nation through the tumultuous times of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the beginning of the Great Recession.

Also new this year is a number of training and certification sessions for convenience store retailers of any size. In 2010, retailers may choose to register and attend a ServSafe Certification Exam, Basic Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HAACP) Certification, and the Training for Interventions Procedures (TIPS) Off Premise Certification.

"We [offer] this because as convenience and petroleum retailers become more sophisticated, they are looking to stay current or stay ahead of regulations and improve the quality of their offerings," said Robert.

These new sessions are in addition to the small operator training sessions that include operational efficiencies; developing new employee training programs; financial management; and developing employee incentive programs.

But the NACS Show 2010 is not all about workshops and speeches. Retail attendees can mingle in an aquatic wonderland during the Welcome Reception, being held Oct. 5, at the Georgia Aquarium. The aquarium is the largest in the world, and measures 550,000 square feet with approximately 8 million gallons of fresh and salt water exhibits.

Back at the convention center, convenience store retailers can view and collect information on the hottest new products by visiting the Cool New Products Preview Room, which this year has merged with the Congreenience Store showcase in efforts to provide attendees with one-stop shopping.

"If you're in the market for new energy-saving, sustainable and cost-efficient products and solutions, check out the Congreenience area," said Robert.

Retailers can also browse the NACS Show expo floor from Oct. 6-8, to discover new products by the more than 1,200 exhibitors expected to attend. This year, the show floor has adjusted as the Merchandise and Candy & Snacks sections were merged. The five areas of the 2010 expo include: Facility Development and Store Operations; Food Equipment & Foodservice; Merchandise, Candy & Snacks; NACS/PEI Petroleum Equipment & Services; and Technology. In addition, on the final day of the show, expo floor hours were adjusted, now opening at 9:00 a.m. and closing at 1:30 p.m. And new this year to help attendees navigate the show and the area is a NACS Show app, which is free and compatible with most smartphones, including the iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, BlackBerry, Android and any other Web-enabled device. It features event and area information, an exhibitor directory, maps, calendar integration, and more.

The app was available beginning in August 2010, and can be downloaded from the NACS Show Web site.

For comments, please contact Mehgan Belanger, Associate News Editor, at [email protected].

"Stew Leonard's practical ideas to build teams, empower employees and continually innovate to improve quality make him a perfect opening general session speaker."

Dave Carpenter, NACS and J.D. Carpenter Cos. Inc.

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