NATIONAL REPORT — While it's important for convenience store retailers to market themselves, new products, services, promotions and other initiatives by c-store suppliers are a major part of capturing consumer interest. Convenience Store News will regularly highlight such efforts in this roundup.
Here are the latest supplier spotlights:
22nd Century Group
22nd Century Group has exclusively licensed several flue-cured and burley tobacco plant lines that grow with Very Low Nicotine levels from from North Carolina State University (NCSU), which contain no foreign genetic material (non-GMO) and will compliment the company's existing Very Low Nicotine plant technologies.
The new, non-GMO, Very Low Nicotine tobacco plant lines are immediately commercially viable as they are the result of multiple generations of plantings that have yielded stable, true-breeding crop lines of Very Low Nicotine flue-cured and burley tobacco plants, according to 22nd Century Group.
The company's new Very Low Nicotine plant varieties will provide options for 22nd Century and for potential licensees to more readily comply with the Food and Drug Administration's plan to dramatically reduce the nicotine in all combustible cigarettes sold in the United States. The non-GMO nature of these tobacco varieties will also facilitate the sale of 22nd Century's proprietary VLN tobacco in some foreign countries where the use of genetically modified crops is restricted.
"The results of this transaction with our research partner, NCSU, meaningfully enhances 22nd Century's already impressive intellectual property portfolio. Importantly, our new plants and their genetics provide the Company with an excellent molecular background for improved taste characteristics and enhanced agronomic performance," said Juan Tamburrino, the vice president of research and development.
Fontem Ventures, owner of e-vapor brand blu, and Purilum LLC, a manufacturer of e-juice concentrates for vaping, will team up to drive responsible innovation in the vaping space, the companies announced. As a preferred provider for Fontem Ventures, Purilum will deliver a wide range of flavor concentrates to the brand, as well as provide finished e-liquids for myblu, the latest offering from blu.
The collaboration allows blu the opportunity to address adult consumers' desire for an expanded selection of e-juices and flavors, while responsibly abiding by FDA regulations and rigorous internal product stewardship standards, according to the companies.
"We know that flavors are central to the vaping experience, and our consumers are requesting more variety. To ensure we deliver the most satisfying flavor experience possible, we have made it a priority to partner with proven leaders in the industry as we continually improve and expand our own capabilities in this space," said Antoine Blonde, general manager (U.S.), Fontem Ventures.
"Purilum is widely respected not only for the quality and variety of its flavor range, but also the unique science-based approach it brings to the process, delivering complete transparency and integrity across the supply chain. This makes them an ideal partner for us as we continue to innovate and deliver on our mission to improve our consumers' experience," he added.
More than 300,000 U.S. drivers have now enrolled in the Pay with GasBuddy program, a first-of-its-kind initiative that gives drivers a discount on virtually every gallon of gas they will ever pump.
"For nearly 20 years, GasBuddy has helped drivers find the best price on fuel, which attracted an audience of millions to our apps and website," said Michael DiLorenzo, chief marketing officer at GasBuddy. "The Pay with GasBuddy program now enables us to have a stickier, more influential relationship with hundreds of thousands of motorists. Because shopping smart with our app, plus paying smart with our card, puts hundreds of dollars per year back in the pocket of consumers. That value, convenience and simplicity is why Pay with GasBuddy members are using our card to fill up nearly five times per month."
Notables since the program launched include:
- U.S. motorists have saved and earned more than $2 million using the Pay with GasBuddy program.
- More than $73 million in total purchase volume was made through the card.
- Nearly 30 million gallons of gas were pumped from 2.5 million unique transactions.
- Texas, Florida, California, Illinois and Ohio have seen the most fuel dispensed within the program.
- Shell, Speedway, Murphy USA, BP and QuikTrip are the top stations in the program by number of transactions.
Gas Pump TV
Gas Pump TV (GPTV) and Bennett Pump Co. are partnering to deploy a program that seeks to increase fuel retailer forecourt and in-store sales. The subsidy program will help ease fuel retailers' financial burden of EMV fuel dispenser upgrades, according to the companies.
The new program is available to fuel supply wholesalers, distributors and jobbers across the U.S. and enables fuel suppliers to provide GPTV to their customers in a fully funded, pump-integrated video and merchandising platform. The program is designed to make it easier for fuel suppliers to extend their services and leverage the GPTV platform as a simple, cost-eﬀective, added-value solution for their customers, according to the companies.
The nation's second largest fuel media network by viewership, GPTV reaches fueling consumers daily with a mixture of national, localized and paid-for content.
The pure liquid nicotine supplier moved its headquarters from Texas to Philadelphia. Located at 1500 Market Street across from City Hall, the larger office will allow for more staff and multiple levels of customer support and service.
Being located in the fastest-developing city on the East Coast was important to the company, according to the announcement.
NicSelect is also in the final stages of development for its new Quality Assurance Guarantee program. To bring the vaping industry and businesses in need of quality products, control and assurance up to FDA regulation conformity, NicSelect will provide a look at its internal processes, share resources and provide services for the vaping industry's benefit.
Oberto Brands completed the sale of its assets and operating divisions to Premium Brands Holdings Corp. on May 31.
"Our family is proud to have built and run Oberto for the last century," said Art Oberto, chairman emeritus. "The sale of our business to Premium Brands not only ensures that its culture and values will be honored, but it will position Oberto for another 100 years of success."
Founded in 1918, Oberto is one of North America's leading manufacturers of beef jerky and other protein-based snack foods.
"While we have been successful as a family-owned business for decades, we are very excited about the opportunity to leverage the resources and expertise of Premium Brands to accelerate our growth," said Tom Hernquist, Oberto president and CEO. "Consistent with Premium Brands' core value of respecting the culture and legacies of its partner companies, we will be keeping our headquarters and manufacturing operations here in Kent [Wash.], and we will continue to deepen our relationship with the broader Seattle community."
Paytronix Systems Inc. announced that "Change the Game" is the theme of its fourth annual Paytronix User Experience meeting, PXUX 2018, to be held Sept. 12-13 at the Hotel Commonwealth in Boston. The interactive conference features two days of high-impact programs focused on brand growth.
"Change the Game speaks to the opportunity our customers have in leveraging guest data," said Michelle Tempesta, head of marketing for Paytronix. "At PXUX, attendees will learn how to change the competitive game with tools designed to strengthen the relationship between the brand and its guests, and ultimately boost revenue by grabbing visits away from competitors."
Bloomin' Brands International, Kahala Brands, Red's Savoy Pizza and Yesway convenience stores will present strategies at the event. Other topics to be addressed include success stories, engagement techniques, workshops and demonstrations and roadmaps.
PDI, a provider of software solutions to convenience retailers and wholesale petroleum marketers, acquired DM2, a leading supplier of technology to wholesale petroleum marketers, to better serve customers and deepen its expertise in petroleum wholesale. The purchase will add additional expertise to PDI's strong professional services team and bolster the company's cardlock and lubricants knowledge, the company said.
The acquisition will also provide PDI with a regional presence on the U.S. West Coast to better service customers in that area.
"We are pleased to add DM2's clients, employees and expertise to our existing portfolio," said Jimmy Frangis, CEO of PDI. "The addition of DM2's software further demonstrates our commitment to the wholesale petroleum industry, expanding our professional services team and developing our presence on the U.S. West Coast. DM2 has hundreds of great clients, and we look forward to serving their business needs for years to come."
PDI also acquired Inform Information Systems Ltd., known commercially as FuelsPricing, a pricing and analytics solution for the fuel distribution industry.
FuelsPricing's software provides comprehensive price management solutions for fuel distributors, helping programmatically increase both volume and margin. Its pricing systems allow operators to better predict and adjust to fluctuations in pricing from suppliers and competitors' posted prices, while also providing analytics capabilities to better understand prior pricing behavior and forecast future market movements, PDI said.
This adjacency expansion complements PDI's enterprise software solutions for the convenience retail and wholesale petroleum industries, where customers need to deliver competitive pricing and optimize their operations, while broadening PDI's capability to serve customers better.
"We are excited to add the FuelsPricing solutions to PDI's software platform. FuelsPricing was an early innovator in designing pricing systems and algorithms that have since become the price optimization engine of choice for many of the world's most successful fuel operators," said Jimmy Frangis, chief executive officer, PDI.
"PDI is a preferred technology partner for fuel suppliers globally when it comes to mission critical back end systems, such as managing business processes, tracking finances, and improving overall operational efficiency. The addition of FuelsPricing allows PDI to extend its leadership in the global fuel industry to front end systems, helping our customers optimize their operations and drive revenue and margin to improve overall business performance," he added.
Petroleum Card Services
Petroleum Card Services (PCS) formed a preferred partnership with the Oklahoma Petroleum Marketers & Convenience-Store Association (OPMCA). The partnership brings exclusive membership benefits for OPMCA's network of independent wholesale and retail marketers of gasoline, diesel, lubricating oils and other petroleum products; transporters of those products; and retail convenience store operators.
"The partnership with OPMCA is a great opportunity for our organization," said Lori Griboski, vice president of sales, PCS. "We've established a great understanding for their member-base and what they need from their payments provider. PCS's industry-leading customer support, low cost processing and secure payment solutions are key benefits we'll deliver to all of OPMCA's members."
"OPMCA is always looking for best-in-class solutions and partnerships to help our members manage their businesses," added Candace McGinnis, executive director, OPMCA. "We know that PCS is committed to the independent petroleum and c-store industries and their subject-matter expertise brings extraordinary value to our members."
SPATCO Energy Solutions
SPATCO acquired the assets of Performance Oil Equipment Inc., a Mississippi-based supplier of equipment and services to the petroleum industry. Performance is an authorized distributor of Wayne Fueling Systems and services central and southern Mississippi, eastern Arkansas and eastern Louisiana.
Jimmy Ratcliff, president, will remain with SPATCO as installation manager and Wayne Parish, vice president, will remain as service manager. The acquisition is SPATCO's 10th expansion in three years.
"I'm pleased that the talented team from Performance Oil Equipment will now be a part of the SPATCO family," said Jeff Dailey, president and CEO of SPATCO. "Their experience and excellent reputation is a huge asset to our company and together we can continue to provide high quality products and services throughout Mississippi."
SPATCO sells, installs and services all brands of petroleum equipment in Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Kentucky, Florida, Georgia, Virginia and Tennessee.
Tannology Inc. recently celebrated 30 years in business by unveiling a commemorative website and a new 30-year logo, which will be on display throughout the year.
The anniversary website details Tanknology's 1988 formation and subsequent growth into the world's largest provider of environmental compliance testing and inspection services. It is available here.
Anniversary celebrations are planned take place at the company's home office in Austin, Texas, as well as its regional offices in California, Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey and Ohio. Celebrations are also planned in conjunction with Tanknology's involvement in the upcoming National Tanks Conference in Louisville, Ky., and 2018 NACS Show in Las Vegas.
The New York Association of Convenience Stores (NYACS) awarded Buffalo-based wholesale distributor Trifoods Inc. the 2018 John MacDougall Leadership Award. Created in 2017, the award honors the late NYACS co-founder and CEO of Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes.
It is presented annually to the individual or company who best demonstrates the quality of MacDougall's career: success in the c-store business, industry leadership, a commitment to relationship building and active involvement in NYACS.
Tripifoods received the award May 17 during the NYACS chairman's banquet in Syracuse, the closing event of NYACS' two-day trade show and convention.