Celebrating Next-Generation Leaders

By John Lofstock, Editor.

The convenience store industry’s young executives face unique challenges as they grow their businesses in the competitive c-store market.

The National Advisory Group’s (NAG) Young Executives Organization (YEO) was formed specifically to addresses these challenges and help the industry’s leaders of tomorrow identify solutions with others in their age group.
Last month, Cumberland Farms hosted this special group of next-generation leaders for the 5th annual YEO Conference at its headquarters in Westborough, Mass. The two-day event attracted more than 65 attendees from 40 c-store chains for educational sessions, store tours and networking opportunities with other young leaders from across the convenience store industry.

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Members heard from an all-star cast of guest speakers including John McMahon, chief human resources officer for Cumberland Farms; Linda McKenna, a principal with Convenience Store Coaches; Peter Tedeschi, the former president and CEO of Tedeschi Food Shops and a current Congressional Candidate for Massachusetts 9th Congressional district; Thomas Cacciola, vice president of facilities support and environmental affairs for Cumberland Farms; Jill Johnson, president of Johnson Consulting; and John Schaninger, president of The Schaninger Group.

In addition to speakers, who lectured on a broad range of leadership issues including developing a corporate culture, engaging the Millennial workforce, effectively communicating with store personnel and the importance of working with government representatives, YEO members got out into the field for store tours. The group visited Cumberland Farms’ test c-store, warehouse and commissary on day one, and on day two toured the newest stores from Alltown, Seasons and VERC Enterprises.

Thank you to our speakers and the convenience store chains that opened their doors for conference attendees.

Operation Playhouse
Developing a solid foundation for young executives is one of the cornerstones of YEO. The group was privileged to partner with Habitat for Humanity’s Operation Playhouse just prior to the start of the conference. Working with Cumberland Farms’ employees, three teams of 12 worked together to construct playhouses that were donated to the families of three local veterans.

YEO’s mission is to cultivate young talent in the convenience store and petroleum industry through implementation of education and networking. I can’t think of a better way for the convenience store industry’s next generation of leaders to bond and network than by joining together in the service of others for such an important cause. I am very proud that our members displayed their leadership skills and initiative outside of the office to benefit military veterans. This was entirely a volunteer opportunity, but the response to participate was extraordinary.

What was even better was the dedication ceremony to three combat veterans from Massachusetts. As a result of the hard work of our members and the Cumberland Farms team, six overjoyed children were presented with playhouses. The veterans included:
• Darren Hebert, who is still active in the Army and has served two combat tours—2002-2003 in Afghanistan and 2009-2010 in Iraq. Herbert has a young son and daughter.
• John Washburn, who also is currently serving on active duty in the Massachusetts Army National Guard and was deployed to Afghanistan in 2010. He has two children, a nine-year-old son and a two-year-old daughter.
• Daniel McNally, a munitions technician who served in the Air Force from 2005 to 2008. He was deployed two times to Iraq and Afghanistan. McNally has two-year-old twins.

Congratulations to everyone who participated. I’m sure it’s an event that they will remember for years to come.

I also want to thank our sponsors and Cumberland Farms, who made all of this possible. The Cumberland team went out of their way to make everyone feel right at home and sponsors Altria, Apter Industries, McLane, PDI, R.J. Reynolds, SKUPOS ensured members had a rewarding experience. I’m already looking forward to next year.