At the National Advisory Group (NAG) Dinner & Awards Ceremony Tuesday evening, NAG honored Mary Banmiller, director of retail and hotel operations for Warrenton Oil, with the Lifetime Award for Convenience Retailing.
The event took place as part of the NAG Conference in La Jolla, Calif., which runs March 27-30.
John Lofstock, executive director of NAG, welcomed attendees to the dinner and spoke about Banmiller’s many contributions to NAG’s success.
“Mary is truly a special individual, and one that I have known professionally for more than 15 years dating back to my first joining Convenience Store Decisions in 2005. I was impressed then with her patience, honesty and willingness to share her industry knowledge,” Lofstock said.
Banmiller, who is the sixth recipient of the NAG Lifetime Award for Convenience Retailing, has been a member of NAG for more than 20 years. She and her brothers began attending NAG in the early 1990’s as part of the Young Executives Organization. Banmiller accepted a board role with NAG in 2009 and has served for 13 years, including leading the board as chairperson from 2013-2015. Her guidance helped NAG relaunch the Young Executives Organization (YEO) and attract next-generation leaders to the association.
“NAG continues to grow, and it’s because of the model Mary helped establish,” Lofstock said. “Her dedication to NAG, to her retailer peers and to the supplier community underscores her impeccable character and drives her success at Warrenton Oil.”
Lofstock played a video that featured Warrenton Oil employees and industry friends congratulating Banmiller on the award.
Today, Missouri-based Warrenton Oil operates more than 50 stores under the FastLane brand, as well as several hotels and Woco Transportation.
Scott Apter, president of Apter Industries and winner of the 2018 Lifetime Award, presented the award to Banmiller.
“Years ago, when we were trying to put this group back together with John Petersen and Tom McIntyre (from CStore Decisions), Bill Kent, myself and a few other people — the question came up, ‘If you’re going to start this group again, who do you want?’ We each had our own list,” Apter said. “At the top of my list was Mary Banmiller. At the top of Bill Kent’s list was Mary Banmiller. Once we got Mary, we knew we were on the right track.”
Apter noted that one thing that stands out about Banmiller is that “she’s giving in everything.”
“She’ll teach anybody,” he said. “She’ll show anybody. She’ll bring them along for the ride. She’s a team builder.”
Banmiller’s parents began the family business, Warrenton Oil, and Banmiller is one of eight children. All eight siblings work in the business together to this day. Her entire family came out to watch her receive the award.
“I’m really grateful to get this award and to be in the company of (previous winners) Scott Apter, Bill Weigel, Bill Kent, David Johnson and Gus Olympidis. It’s truly an honor …” Banmiller said.
She recalled her early days in the c-store business, after coming from the hotel business and having to learn a new industry from the ground up. “I got to come to NAG. I learned a lot from all those people. They always made me feel welcome. I’m really proud to be a part of this organization,” she said.
“When I think about events like this; we’re all together, we have all these ideas, and we want to get them all done when we get back,” Banmiller said. “Then business takes over and we forget. But then something happens, and we remember, ‘oh, that person at NAG taught me that, or they talked about it.’ And so you realize the value of an event like this. I just want to impart on all of you: Ask questions. Don’t be afraid. Everybody’s your friend here. There’s no wrong answer. There’s no wrong question.”