Striving for More
Carbon-neutral fuel is certainly not having a neutral effect for Alon Brands Inc.
Alon, the largest 7-Eleven licensee in the United States, is so pleased with its introduction of the Strive Reduced Emissions Fuel Program from GreenPrint LLC that the convenience store chain expects to expand the program to many more markets this year.
Alon first introduced the Strive program in June in Albuquerque, N.M., at 122 pumps spanning 23 stores. Then in November, it more than doubled its commitment to the program — to 312 pumps at 36 stores. Dallas-based Alon Brands is a division of Alon USA Energy Inc.
“We’ve expanded the program in Albuquerque and are in discussions with GreenPrint about moving the program to other markets as well,” Jonathan Ketchum, senior vice president of retail for Alon Brands, told Convenience Store News in an exclusive interview. “We don’t just see it as an Albuquerque-centric program. We’d like to expand this to all 309 of our locations and integrate this into our overall marketing program.”
Atlanta-based GreenPrint’s Strive Reduced Emissions Fuel Program calculates per gallon of gasoline sold a consumer’s tailpipe emissions and then plants trees and invests in other projects to lower those emissions in the atmosphere. On the retailer end, the program allows convenience store operators to sell an environmentally friendly fuel, which can help increase customer loyalty and better the local community.
“We kind of had a soft launch of the product. We will make a bigger splash. 2016 is going to be a very exciting year for us to engage the communities even more,” Ketchum said.
Alon wanted to become involved in GreenPrint’s program because the carbon-neutral movement is becoming increasingly important, according to the executive.
“What attracted us to the program was to really differentiate ourselves and give back to the community,” he said.
Based on both pre- and post-launch surveys conducted by Alon and GreenPrint, Alon’s involvement in the Strive program holds a lot of weight with customers.
“What was really telling to us is twice as many people since we launched the program have said they make their decision to buy gas based upon the Strive fuel program,” Ketchum noted. “Before, the consumers we surveyed went to Alon stations 6.5 out of every 10 trips. Since the launch of the program, we’ve got that up to eight out of every 10 trips. We are seeing increased loyalty and I think that’s what we were really after, in addition to the corporate social responsibility.
“Consumers are definitely aware of the program, like the program and are making purchase decisions based on the program, so we are very happy with it,” he continued.
Alon picked the Albuquerque market for the launch because the company sees it as one of the more eco-friendly markets in the United States and it played really well into its “green” footprint.
The retailer has become much more involved in the community since introducing the Strive program, too, including joining forces with Tree New Mexico and the Arbor Day Foundation.
“We’ve planted more than 1,000 trees in the metro Albuquerque area,” Ketchum said. “We’ve had two tree-planting events. They have been fun for our employees and have really gotten us more involved in the local community.”
A SYNERGISTIC RELATIONSHIP
Although scientists differ in opinion on the extent of motor-fuel carbon dioxide emissions, most believe they are, at a minimum, bad for the environment and can cause problems such as global warming, smog and pollution.
In addition to carbon-neutral fueling, alternative fuels are touted as more environmentally friendly than traditional petroleum. But Peter Davis, co-founder and CEO of GreenPrint, stressed that his company is not competing with alternative fuels. Instead, he maintains GreenPrint has a “synergistic relationship” with such fuels.
“The main benefit the Strive program brings is [that] it’s applicable to 100 percent of consumers today,” Davis said. “Consumers can drive their current vehicles and pump gas from the existing infrastructure and be green without making a choice to buy an electric or hybrid vehicle.”
For the c-store/gas station operator, Strive provides a similar benefit in that they don’t need to install new tanks, pumps or dispensers, as must be done when introducing alternative fuels.
“One day, everyone could be driving a low-emission vehicle. But nobody has a crystal ball,” Davis said. “This is the perfect stopgap solution for the next 30 to 50 years so that people can be green immediately without changing their behavior tremendously.”
GreenPrint’s Strive Reduced Emissions Fuel Program is also being utilized by Ricker Oil Co., FleetCor/Comdata, as well as 800 corporate fleets.
“Consumers are definitely aware of the program, like the program and are making purchase decisions based on the program, so we are very happy with it.”
— Jonathan Ketchum, Alon Brands Inc.
“The main benefit the Strive program brings is [that] it’s applicable to 100 percent of consumers today. Consumers can drive their current vehicles and pump gas from the existing infrastructure and be green without making a choice to buy an electric or hybrid vehicle.”
— Peter Davis, GreenPrint LLC