By John Lostock, Editor-in-Chief
I have been covering the convenience store industry for close to 20 years as a journalist. It has been a rewarding career filled with wonderful opportunities to meet great people.
As I have mentioned many times before, I first found a home in this industry back when my father served as an Esso/Exxon dealer in New York with his two brothers for close to three decades before he retired in the late 1980s. I always enjoyed working with him and liked the people element of the business so I’m much more inclined professionally to value relationships than do, say, people new to the industry, who don’t often seem to appreciate sharing and networking nearly as much as they should.
This is important to me because relationships, education and networking help comprise the foundation on which the National Advisory Group (NAG) is built. And what a solid foundation it is. Having just returned home from the 2016 NAG Conference in Savannah, Ga., I am so grateful for the high level of participation from speakers at leading chains such as QuikTrip, Thorntons, QuickChek, Kum & Go, E-Z Mart, Rutter’s, Maverik, The Kent Cos., Weigel’s, Cubby’s and so many more who shared valuable data that was informative and inspiring.
While sharing was the order of the day at NAG, the nighttime was reserved for honoring those who have shaped the industry as we know it. Family-owned businesses are the backbone of the c-store industry—a fact Bill Weigel has carried with pride for 56 years. Bill is the chairman of Weigel’s Convenience Stores and his journey in the c-store industry has been a magnificent ride that carries fond memories of inspiration, leadership, great people and an unwavering desire to be successful.
The industry has changed dramatically over the past half a century. Bill has not only changed with the times, he has led the way for many of his industry peers. That’s why we are so proud to honor Bill as the 2016 recipient of the NAG Lifetime Award for Convenience Retailing.
While Weigel’s continues to flourish, Bill’s biggest impact on the convenience store industry has been his influence on his peers to strive for retailing excellence. I have known Bill for more than 15 years and have had the opportunity to spend time with the Weigel’s team in Tennessee. The entire group under Bill’s leadership represents the very best the convenience store industry has to offer. Along with company president Ken McMullen and Bill’s son Kurt, the company’s director of recruiting, I have thoroughly enjoyed the interactions I’ve have had with the Weigel’s team through the years and I’m proud to call them friends.
In addition to being one of the most passionate c-store operators in the industry, Bill is known for his commitment to doing things the right way and always making himself available to help others succeed. He genuinely enjoys seeing others be rewarded for their hard work and is quick to offer words of encouragement to keep you focused and motivated.
Today, Weigel’s operates 63 convenience stores, all within a 100-mile radius of its corporate headquarters in Powell, Tenn. The bright, spacious stores being built now represent state-of-the-art convenience retailing.
The company is also rolling out a dynamic made-to-order foodservice program, recently added a 6,000-square-foot bakery, operates a proprietary loyalty program and is enhancing its retail image to ensure the Weigel’s brand will endear itself to a new generation of convenience store customers.
While Weigel’s has an outstanding operation and has earned the respect of all who have come in contact with the brand, Bill’s legacy will be his hard work, his humility and his instinctive ability to convince others to believe in themselves and exceed their limitations.
Please join me in congratulating Bill Weigel, a true industry icon, with this prestigious award.