YEO Preparing Leaders for Real-World Challenges

Many years ago, when the National Advisory Group (NAG) was preparing to relaunch the Young Executives Organization (YEO), I reached out to John MacDougall, the venerable founder of Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes in New York, and asked him for advice. John was an excellent source for NAG because he believed in the association and had a keen way of cutting right to the heart of the issue.

“Do you see a need for this and can you provide members a reason to get involved?” he asked. “If you can’t, then don’t bother because everyone is busy and you will just be wasting their time. But if you can provide value, resources and give members an opportunity to learn and grow, then everyone wins and we will support it.”

YEO followed his lead and John was true to his word. He allowed Jared Sturtevant, Nice N Easy’s director of marketing, to join YEO and become board chairman. Peter Tamburro, another Nice N Easy executive, went on to become the NAG board chairman and remains a current board member. I’d like to think John would be happy with the work we are doing.

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The YEO mission marches forward in May with our 6th annual conference, which will be held at McLane’s state-of-the-art distribution center in Springfield, Mo. The agenda for this conference is heavily focused on artificial intelligence, robotics, data analysis and how technology is changing retail.

Following up on the successful roundtables we’ve had at Family Express, RaceTrac Petroleum, Maverik and Cumberland Farms, I’m sure our members will have a wonderful experience that will help them grow personally and professionally.

In addition to a world-class educational agenda, attendees at the YEO Conference will get a firsthand look at McLane’s Ozark distribution center, which features cutting-edge robotics and artificial intelligence to bring products to market. The second day will feature a tour of convenience stores in the Springfield market.

For the third consecutive year, YEO has partnered with Habitat for Humanity for a pre-conference team-building project that will allow members to work on the construction of a new home in Springfield. I can’t think of a better way for the convenience store industry’s next generation of leadership to bond and network than joining together in the service of others for such an important cause.

A Home for Emerging Leaders
Developing a solid foundation for young executives is a cornerstone of NAG and it is YEO’s core mission. YEO membership provides the ideal opportunity to become actively involved in developing real-time solutions for convenience retailers. By participating, YEO members are afforded networking opportunities with prominent and accomplished industry leaders.

The familial nature of the c-store industry and the countless relationships that have been formed are the backbone of the industry, but it’s our next-generation leaders that will ensure that convenience stores continue to thrive, and it is time to recognize just how important they are to the future of the convenience store and petroleum industry.

Successful companies have understood the importance of investing in the development of next generation business leaders for quite some time, Greg Ehrlich, president of FriendShip Food Stores in Ohio, told me recently.

“Now, more than ever, with rapid changes in globalization, technology and communication, developing these future leaders is directly correlated to long-term success. What worked just 10 years ago, is no longer effective in engaging and inspiring future leaders,” Ehrlich said. “The 20-35-year-olds today look for work that has meaning, and it’s up to today’s leaders to codify and communicate the purpose and meaning of their work. Those able to cross this chasm will enjoy both short-and long-term engagement and success.”

YEO shares these beliefs and has created a foundation to inspire next-generation leaders. Register for the 2019 YEO Conference at We look forward to seeing you in Springfield.