H&S Energy has soared to a 112-store operation since its debut in the mid-’90s, and it’s set to escalate growth in the year ahead. With 46 company-owned Power Market convenience stores in Northern California and 56 ExtraMile c-stores in Southern California, the company has its sights set on doubling its store count in the next five years.
But H&S Energy has more immediate expansion plans as well, starting with growing enrollment in its new loyalty program and mobile app, which it launched this past September. The company is set to launch a wholesale business to help supply stores in November. It’s also growing its electric vehicle (EV) charging capacity, proprietary and third-party delivery options and rebranding its proprietary deli program.
And, as the second generation of the family business moves into leadership roles at the company, they’re spearheading Power Market’s first cashierless store launch in Q1 of 2021.
In August 1996, Sal Hassan, president and CEO of H&S Energy, began Hassan and Sons Inc., now the holding company for H&S Energy Products LLC, through which the company operates its Power Market convenience stores.
While Hassan didn’t have previous convenience store-specific experience, he came from a family of entrepreneurs.
“I wanted to have a business that (provided) a needed commodity, and fuel was that business,” Hassan said.
At the time, the fuel and energy sectors were evolving. “Oil companies and operators of fuel stations were adding convenience stores to their stations,” he said.
Hassan became an early adopter of the trend when he opened his first c-store in Cypress, Calif., in 1998. The site was located on a former gas station property in an old shopping center.
“The gas station was a 76 that was actually demolished before I acquired the real estate. And so (my store) was a new build and new to the industry,” he said.
From there, Hassan set his eyes on growth.
“I was fortunate to have the support of my family at that time to help me get started. I teamed up with Chevron Oil Co., as they were our first branded location,” Hassan said. “They were going through a reorganization themselves, where they were divesting some of their stores. Because I was operating at a high level and doing a great job, they offered (to let) me buy some of their stores.”
Hassan took Chevron up on its offer and began growing the company in 1999. That same year, Hassan’s brother, Victor Hassan, joined him in the business as partner and chief operations manager, making it a true family venture.
“We split the roles of the company, where I was responsible for the finance and strategic growth, and he was responsible for operations,” Sal Hassan said. “Between Victor and I, we grew the company from one location to, today, over 100 locations in California.”
H&S Energy first began growing its fleet of stores as a franchisee of Chevron’s ExtraMile brand. Today, 56 of its c-store sites carry the ExtraMile banner, and the stores feature two Chevron gas brands — Chevron and Texaco.
In 2015, the company launched its proprietary Power Market c-store brand when it acquired nearly 50 locations from Tower Market in Northern California. The Power Market stores are also branded Chevron and Texaco, with the exception of two H&S-branded stations.
The company also operates 26 car washes — two of which are full-service car washes — under the banner “H&S Carwash,” which are co-located on Power Market and ExtraMile c-store properties.
“Our focus today is on growing our network of convenience stores — either bringing in new-to-industry locations or acquiring existing companies to grow our network,” said Sal Hassan. “And we’re unilaterally going to grow our Power Market stores and our ExtraMile stores, both in the North and South of California.”
Today, Victor and Sal are joined by the second generation. Sal’s son, Amir, is the operations coordinator, and Sal’s daughter, Hana, heads the team’s public relations and social media efforts. Victor’s son, Araby, acts as marketing and sales coordinator for the business.
“It’s amazing to be a part of the family business and work with family toward a single goal,” said Amir Hassan. He officially joined the company as a cashier when he was 18 years old.
“I had to wait until I was 18 because that’s when I could stand behind the register alone,” he explained. But Amir remembers that his father used to take him on routine mystery shopping visits on Saturdays.
“It was through these visits that I grew to understand the proper image of a c-store, how important the proper customer interaction is and the importance of having a strong team and system in order to achieve the operational efficiency that we wanted,” he said. “So, I guess on my resume, you can technically say I started at five years old.”
Despite his early introduction to the family business, Amir had originally planned to become a doctor, but something kept pulling him back into the family business.
“I felt that it was my destiny to be a part of H&S Energy and bring in fresh blood to move it into the future,” he said.
Today, he’s proud to be a part of the family-owned and operated company.
“Family businesses have proven time and time again to be more patient with how they use their capital,” Amir Hassan said. “They hold strong values and traditions and are also able to make decisions faster because they’re usually all on the same page and want the same goals, which are to grow and also to ensure the company’s success for the next generation.”
H&S Energy, he noted, is no different. The chain also sees its long-term employees as family, too. Many team members have been with the company from the start or for more than 20 years.
One major benefit to being an ExtraMile franchisee is that Chevron keeps the brand continuously updated in terms of design and amenities. Currently, the ExtraMile stores are embarking on a refresh that includes a revamped image, a new color scheme that incorporates more blacks and grays, and a more modern design appearance overall.
H&S Energy’s Power Market stores feature a color scheme that includes greens, browns and blues. The stores are also large, with some Power Market stores measuring more than 10,000 square feet.
“Our Power Market stores are five to six times larger than our largest ExtraMile store,” Amir Hassan said.
Most of The Power Market c-stores are located on the outskirts of many Northern California towns, and as a result, they act as the local neighborhood destination for groceries, dairy products and fresh fruits. The stores provide a wide variety of grocery items from traditional snacks and sodas to freshly cut meat and handmade sandwiches to fresh produce and pet products. The chain also aims to carry a selection of products that cater to what each individual community needs.
Wholesale Distribution Arm
This November, H&S Energy is introducing a wholesale distribution branch, H&S Wholesale. The move will allow H&S Energy to become a distributor to its own stores, as well as to other local convenience store brands, and better source products tailored to its communities.
“We are concentrating on products that are locally grown and locally produced in the U.S. because we believe that we need to support the local economy and the national economy by buying products made in the USA,” Sal Hassan said.
The chain has been planning the wholesale arm for some time.
“We were looking for the proper location and the proper partnership with vendors and manufacturers to start our project,” Sal Hassan explained.
When the wholesale distribution company opens this November, it will be located in Woodland, Calif.
Delis & Delivery
In addition to taking ownership of its supply chain, H&S Energy is also focused on improving and expanding its foodservice offerings.
Power Market stores offer full-service proprietary delis at seven locations, which offer fresh-made sandwiches, hot and cold salads, fried chicken and burritos, among other food items. The chain has been adding more healthy options to its menus, including more salads and Mediterranean-inspired selections.
All proprietary deli food is made in-house. “We have our chefs, our butchers — we do that all on our own,” Amir Hassan said.
The chain is in a process of branding its proprietary deli program under the “Snap Deli” name.
“Our new deli concept aims to provide our customers with a clean and healthy food option,” said Marketing and Sales Coordinator Araby Hassan. “In some of our areas where we are planning on rolling this out, there aren’t many restaurants nor healthy food options nearby. Doing so will allow our customers to enjoy a nice meal inside our stores.”
H&S Energy’s ExtraMile locations also offer food programs created by the ExtraMile franchise, including roller grill offerings, nachos at select locations and hot, pre-made sandwiches.
Power Market stores that don’t include full delis provide hot food programs similar to the ExtraMile stores, with small pizzas, chicken bites and tornadoes, roller grill offerings and nachos.
In the age of COVID-19, H&S Energy is also putting extra emphasis on growing its third-party food delivery services for its entire network of Power Market and ExtraMile locations though partnerships with Uber Eats, Instacart and DoorDash, among others.
In March, before the pandemic arrived, H&S Energy had already launched third-party delivery options for its full-service delis and had begun preliminary talks with third-party delivery companies on expanding the service across its store network. As a result, when COVID-19 hit, H&S Energy was able to quickly move forward with third-party delivery and curbside pickup in May.
“We were actually the first convenience store on the West Coast to offer delivery on the new Uber Essentials platform with Uber Eats,” Amir Hassan said. “Also, we were one of the first c-stores to offer the same delivery services through Instacart.”
This September, H&S Energy introduced a mobile app featuring a new loyalty program and proprietary delivery service available to its entire network of stores. The proprietary delivery program includes special offers that differentiate it from the third-party delivery options, allowing customers to enjoy the same deals they get in-store on their phone.
The proprietary delivery service will use H&S Energy’s own delivery drivers.
“We’ve seen good growth with these delivery services as more people are becoming accustomed to gas station delivery and c-store delivery,” Amir Hassan said. “We look for continued growth in that with our proprietary service.”
The loyalty program — specific to its Power Market stores — is called Power Market Loyalty, and it allows customers — its ‘Power Family’ — to earn points, which are known as ‘Power Bucks.’
“It’s something we’re very excited about,” Amir Hassan said. “Through our loyalty program, customers will be able to save at the pump and at the store. With every purchase you make at the store, those purchases get turned into points that you can redeem on future purchases. We will even be offering our loyalty members special discounts that will be exclusively available to them.”
The mobile app will provide a list of all H&S Energy locations (Power Market and ExtraMile), directions to the stores and the services each store provides, such as car wash, propane, deli and delivery services where applicable. The app will also alert users to special offerings available at the nearest locations.
H&S Energy is also moving into EV charging.
“We’ve teamed up with leaders in the EV charging industry to provide our customers with the choice to fill up with gas, diesel, E85 or charge their cars — all in one location,” Amir Hassan said. “We understand that there are various modes of fueling or charging up your car, so we want to offer our customers the various options that are out there.”
Today, the chain features about 15 EV chargers at various H&S Energy locations. “They’re the fast turbochargers,” explained Amir Hassan. “We have plans to continue to grow that through all of our locations in California.”
But its biggest technological leap will come in Q1 of 2021 when Power Market introduces a cashierless store pilot program at a handful of its locations.
The cashierless store initiative, Sal Hassan noted, is “the new generation’s project. It’s Amir and Araby’s project. We are trying to always stay with the trends or hopefully ahead of the trends.”
“What really inspired me with the cashierless (store),” Amir Hassan said, “was I went to a Sacramento Kings NBA basketball game about a year ago with Araby, and we saw that they had a cashierless store in their stadium.”
While the cousins were familiar with Amazon Go and Zippin in San Francisco, at the time, they hadn’t seen a traditional c-store attempt a cashierless conversion. Araby and Amir began spearheading an autonomous store project. A few strategically selected locations are set to pilot the program early next year.
Adapting to the New Normal
When the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, business slowed at first, but Power Market’s ability to provide needed groceries to customers helped it thrive despite the challenges.
“We were able to pick up a lot of business from the neighborhood as we became their place to go and get groceries and house supplies,” Sal Hassan said.
He views COVID-19 as an event that taught his chain how to adapt quickly to new circumstances — a key skill to hone that can be especially critical in times of crisis. What’s more, being able to take care of customers and employees during COVID-19 was important to H&S Energy’s mission.
“We adjusted quickly to accommodate our customers’ needs to make sure that we had enough products for our customers to take home to their families,” Sal Hassan said. “We adjusted our operating hours to also help our employees attend to their families when they’re needed.”
While the pandemic continues, it hasn’t slowed down the Hassan family. In 2021 and beyond, H&S Energy plans to grow — via acquisitions and new builds — both its ExtraMile and Power Market locations.
The goal is to double its total store count from 112 convenience stores today to more than 200 in the next five years, explained Amir Hassan. “With every location added, we must analyze whether the ExtraMile or Power Market banner would best fit with the traffic, demographic and surrounding market.”
As it expands under both banners, H&S Energy’s second generation is committed to keeping the company on the leading edge of tomorrow’s digital innovation.