RaceTrac’s Next Generation of Leadership Seeks to Preserve Vision
ATLANTA — Since its founding in 1934 by Carl Bolch Sr., RaceTrac Petroleum Inc. has been a family business. A new leadership structure, unveiled last week, continues that tradition.
Bolch's granddaughters, Natalie Morhous and Melanie Isbill, have taken on larger roles at the convenience store chain. The move will ensure continued connectivity between family legacy and business priorities, the company stated when announcing the new structure.
Morhous, formerly vice president of energy dispatch, has been promoted to president. Isbill, previously executive director of marketing, has been promoted to chief marketing officer. Both will work closely with RaceTrac's new CEO Max McBrayer, who previously served as chief financial officer and chief supply officer. (Former RaceTrac CEO Allison Moran, sister of Morhous and Isbill, stepped down in July 2017.)
With these changes, Carl Bolch Jr. returns to his role as executive chairman of RaceTrac. While he hopes to take a step back from the day-to-day running of the business, according to Morhous, Bolch Jr. remains the retailer's top executive. And she says her father is still the "most passionate person about this business."
"Being a family business, we feel like there is a vision that my dad has set forth. With these additional responsibilities for myself and my sister, it will allow us to ensure that we’re able to continue to push RaceTrac with that vision; enabling day-to-day management to reflect his vision," Morhous explained.
While both women say they've been involved with RaceTrac essentially their entire lives, Morhous officially joined the family business full-time in 2012 and Isbill in 2008.
Morhous, who began her career as a consultant in Washington, D.C., started at RaceTrac working on the special projects team. About two and a half years ago, she transitioned to lead the fuel transportation division. Now, as president, her attention will be focused on the company's RaceTrac and Raceway retail divisions.
Isbill, who began her career in Macy's merchandising group, got her start at RaceTrac in the supply and distribution area. After a two-year leave to attend graduate school, she returned to the family business in 2011 in the role of private label brand manager. After about a year and a half, she moved over to the marketing department and has risen through the ranks. In her new position as chief marketing officer, she will be responsible for marketing, merchandising (all categories) and architecture/design.
Excited for What's Ahead
The new leadership structure is designed to support RaceTrac's plans for continued expansion and growth. Currently, the Atlanta-based chain operates 500 convenience stores in Georgia, Florida, Louisiana and Texas. The retailer celebrated its 500th store opening on Dec. 5.
Morhous told Convenience Store News that the plan for 2019 is to open 50 new stores. This growth will include entry into Tennessee, the c-store retailer’s first new market in more than 15 years.
Within the next few years, RaceTrac’s goal is to have 50 stores in Nashville.
"The Nashville area is growing rapidly and we think there is an opportunity for a top-tier operator to move into that market," Morhous said, noting that RaceTrac has no set goal for overall store count.
Entry into other new markets is a possibility. "We're always looking at new markets. Nothing is planned today but, where it makes sense, it’s certainly a possibility," she said.
Continued growth also means strengthening the RaceTrac brand. In November, the retailer launched the first cohesive brand awareness campaign in its 85-year history.
The "Now That's Whatever" platform is designed to communicate what RaceTrac stands for as a brand: that it listens to its customers and offers whatever it is that they need. The campaign particularly speaks to its in-store food offers and convenient store locations.
"Our consumer is coming to us for things at different times of the day. We’re a break in the day for them," said Isbill. "We saw a huge opportunity to speak to our consumer and connect with them for who we are as a brand. It’s resonating very well. Our plan is to continue building on that messaging."
"We're excited about RaceTrac's future," Morhous concluded.