A Smooth Transition

There is no doubt San Antonio-based CST Brands and Allentown, Pa.-based CrossAmerica Partners will work closely together in the future. In fact, Jeremy Bergeron, who had been CST’s treasurer, has taken the reins as president of CrossAmerica.

CST bought 100 percent of the general partner interest in CrossAmerica on Oct. 1, and CST CEO Kim Lubel immediately thought Bergeron was the right choice because he had already successfully set up and led a new department at CST Brands to manage the integration and development operations for CST and CrossAmerica retail acquisitions.

“Our first deal was Nice N Easy,” he said. “We also purchased 22 Timewise locations from Landmark Industries in south Texas. Through that process, I got to work closely with the CrossAmerica team, including Joe Topper. At the same time, I was coordinating our efforts with San Antonio to ensure a successful transition for the newly acquired organizations.”

Despite the prospect of facing the Northeast’s harsher winters, Bergeron is truly excited for the opportunity to lead CrossAmerica, classified as a master limited partnership (MLP).

Of course, moving a family (Bergeron is married with twins, one boy and one girl) 1,735 miles — the distance from CST’s headquarters to CrossAmerica’s home — is never simple, but Bergeron said his family fully supported the move.

“It’s a tremendous opportunity,” he said. “In eastern Pennsylvania, you are surrounded by so many wonderful locations and so much history. There is an abundance of things to experience and it’s an exciting adventure for our family. We are all thrilled to be here.”

On the day Convenience Store News visited Bergeron in Allentown, it was just his second full day there. One might expect unpacked boxes to be scattered across the floor considering the situation, but Bergeron’s fifth-floor office did not show even one speck of dust.

This new role for Bergeron may have never arisen if CST Brands didn’t purchase the general partner interest in CrossAmerica, then known as Lehigh Gas Partners LP.

“Once we closed on the transaction to acquire Lehigh Gas, I started working more and more with the CrossAmerica leadership team,” he explained. “We bought a company that was not only one of the largest wholesalers in the United States, but also a very aggressive acquirer. We saw an opportunity for both organizations to continue that growth.”

Expect CrossAmerica to acquire plenty more convenience store assets in the future. “The convenience store industry is still extremely fragmented and is ripe for further consolidation,” Bergeron relayed. “You still see the remnants of the major [oil companies] getting out of the space. Also, the MLP space is creating another avenue for growth. With our favorable capital structure here, we can get deals done.”

Companies looking to shed c-store assets are interested in selling to CrossAmerica and CST because they know “we will treat their employees fairly and with the utmost respect. That makes us an attractive acquirer,” Bergeron added.

As for the type of assets CrossAmerica will look to acquire, they must be positive additions for both the MLP and CST Brands. “There are many assets up for sale, but some really benefit both companies extremely well,” he said. “We often like either an existing market where we can further grow our footprint or an adjacent market where we want to grow further out.

“However, we also still consider areas where we have no presence, but where we see it as a strong, growing market,” he continued. “We also look for opportunities to expand store sales with our offerings and leverage our buying power that can grow earnings at the stores.”

Although CrossAmerica and CST will also continue to build new-to-industry, large-format stores, Bergeron acknowledged it’s difficult to build such stores in areas where the company does not already have a presence. “It’s a lot easier to acquire into that market, build around it and further grow that way,” he said.


Since Bergeron is still so new to the job, it’s difficult to say what his average day will be like. The day of CSNews’ visit was the first time he drove into the office as opposed to walking to the company headquarters from across the street at a nearby hotel.

Bergeron did stress that CrossAmerica and CST will “grow together,” something that will benefit both companies. “Culture is something that binds an organization,” he said. “Joe and Kim have done a great job of instilling what they think the cultures should be. Hopefully, I can just continue that.”

Bergeron knows his first year at CrossAmerica will be a learning opportunity, and he looks forward to it.

“Following the announcement of my new role, I hosted roundtables and met with everyone within the CrossAmerica organization,” he recalled. “What I told them is, ‘I’m not coming in here to get you all to do things the CST way. One of the reasons CST acquiring CrossAmerica made sense for us was to leverage the strengths of both companies. Lehigh had the reputation of a strong, serial acquirer and a respected wholesaler. We came here to learn from you.’”

He will get help along the way from Lubel and Topper, who will be retiring from the company in September, as well as many other employees at both CrossAmerica and CST.

“Joe Topper did a tremendous job building this organization. He hired great people, many of whom have been in the industry for numerous years, and gave them the support and opportunities to flourish in their roles,” said Bergeron, who himself has served the fuel industry since he graduated from college. “What I hope to do is continue the excitement and success at CrossAmerica and share the resources and strengths CST has to offer. I didn’t come here saying I want to do this or that. It’s about me wanting to be an advocate for the team here and be of service to the whole organization.”

Regarding Lubel, Bergeron said he has known her for many years and recalled when both relocated to San Antonio in 1997 to work for Valero Energy, which spun off CST in 2013. He always speaks to her on a weekly basis, and sometimes even on a daily basis.

“She’s a tremendous lady; she’s extremely smart and has a passion to succeed that is felt by everyone in the company,” concluded Bergeron. “Her drive and commitment to her employees is greater than anyone else I’ve known. She wants to make sure each and every employee in the organization is valued and supported.”

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