RaceTrac's Soon-to-Be CEO Accepts CSNews Innovator Award

ATLANTA -- In her first interview since the announcement of her new position on Monday, RaceTrac Petroleum's soon-to-be CEO Allison Moran said she is excited to work alongside a strong leadership team that includes President Max Lenker, Chief Financial Officer Bob Dumbacher and new Chief Operating Officer Billy Milam.

"I've often said that I've worked for the company for 18 years, but I've been with RaceTrac my entire life," said Moran, who will assume the chief executive role from her father and soon-to-be chairman Carl Bolch Jr. on Dec. 31. She noted that her father will "remain a very active chairman."

Moran sat down for an interview with Convenience Store News Editor-in-Chief Don Longo following his presentation of the CSNews 2012 Retailer Innovator of the Year Award to RaceTrac at the company's Store Support Center in Atlanta. Approximately 20 of the retailer's top managers gathered for the awards ceremony at which Longo extolled the company's culture of "innovation backed by execution."

Longo explained how CSNews picked RaceTrac for its inaugural award from among a small group of convenience store retailers noted for being innovative.

"The feedback from the market -- from leading suppliers, consultants and even other retailers -- was that RaceTrac's new RT6K prototype was not only innovative, but an operational success as well," he stated.

RaceTrac's soon-to-be CEO Allison Moran (center holding award) shares kudos with company managers during the presentation of Convenience Store News' 2012 Retailer Innovator of the Year Award.

In accepting the award, Moran gave credit to the entire company. "Everyone here in this room and throughout the company contributed to the ideas that went into the new RaceTrac prototype," she said.

After the presentation, Moran and Milam took CSNews on a tour of the newest RT6K store. Located just minutes from RaceTrac's Store Support Center, the Spring Road store opened just five days ago and is already doing gangbuster business, according to co-store manager Frederick Lockett.

The store follows the model set by RaceTrac's original Acworth, Ga., RT6K prototype, profiled in the October issue of Convenience Store News. The design is about 1,000 square feet larger than a traditional RaceTrac store with a lot of the space devoted to non-sales areas.

"We are living our mission of making the lives of our team members simpler and more enjoyable so they have more time to serve our guests," Moran noted.

This extra space is clearly evident behind the expanded coffee bar, where there is ample room for store associates to brew and refill coffee carafes off the sales floor. "This way, our team members can keep up with the coffee rush and not get in the way of our guests," she added. Wider aisles and lower fixtures also make it easier for associates to restock shelves while providing clear sightlines across the store for shoppers.

The Spring Road store has a larger patio dining area than the Acworth location, signifying the retailer's desire to become a neighborhood gathering place, as well as a convenience store. "I was at our new RT6K in Little Elm, Texas, and I overhead a child who was eating a frozen yogurt from our new Swirl World station say, 'You're right, we could live here,'" Moran recalled.

Swirl World, an innovation spearheaded by Moran's brother Jordan, one of Bolch Jr.'s four children who work for RaceTrac, is a self-serve frozen yogurt station that allows shoppers to customize their own tasty treats with a wide selection of condiments, from sprinkles and nuts to gummy bears and granola.

The Spring Road store also features a southern specialty, boiled peanuts, due to popular demand.

Moran noted that under her leadership, RaceTrac's expansion will remain focused on building new stores from the ground up.

"In the past 15 years, we've only bought one store, and that was for our Raceway division," added Milam, who prior to his promotion to RaceTrac COO was senior vice president of store development. "And, we own the vast majority of the real estate for our stores," he noted.

Building stores from the ground up "enables consistency of execution throughout the far-flung chain," said Moran. RaceTrac operates more than 330 stores in Atlanta, Baton Rouge, La., Tampa/St. Petersburg, Fla., Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami, New Orleans and Orlando, Fla.

Both executives said RaceTrac will continue its "measured" expansion pace. "By the end of this year, 20 percent of our stores in Georgia will be this new [RT6K] model," Milam said. "That's impressive in just a year."

Summing up the new look, which also includes fresh graphics and branding, Moran said, "The design is an extension of our personality. We're highly competitive, but we believe in having a lot of fun along the way."

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