Industry Mourns Death of Arnie Van Zanten

Retailer/consultant "made everyone he worked with better"

Published in CSP Daily News

Arnold Van Zanten Jr.

CLEARWATER BEACH, Fla. -- Arnold Van Zanten Jr., a consultant and retailer with a long history in the convenience store industry, and a former member of the CSP Information Group board of directors, died peacefully on Friday, Aug. 2, 2013, after a courageous battle with prostate cancer. He was born in Battle Creek, Mich., on Jan. 13, 1942.

Van Zanten, 71, received his BS and MBA from the University of Michigan. After working several years for both Accenture Consulting and as senior vice president of American Natural Resources in Detroit, Van Zanten relocated to Houston. There he served as senior vice president of Coastal Corp., where he was a member of the management team that started the company's c-store division and built it to more than 650 stores. He became executive vice president of National Convenience Stores in 1988. Upon retirement in 1996 he moved to Clearwater Beach, Fla., and served as a consultant for corporate CEOs.

He worked with CSP for more than 16 years, including time as a consultant and a member of its board of directors. He was involved in every major initiative taken by the company, including internal projects, large acquisitions and finally, the sale of the company to CSP Business Media.

Industry leaders from CSP and beyond recalled "Arnie" warmly and sincerely.

"In life, we are fortunate to have friendships that are all-encompassing, people who penetrate our head and heart, who have a place in our soul," said Paul Reuter, CSP chairman emeritus. "Arnie Van Zanten was one of those people for me. I am a better person for having him in my life. I will miss him dearly."

"Working with him was a privilege--and fun," said consultant Gerald Lewis, also a former member of the CSP board of directors. "He knew how to take an idea, enhance it and sell it. His judgment was impeccable and, at the end of any conversation, the initial ideas had been improved. He made everyone he worked with better."

"He has always brought insight, perspective and balance to every business discussion, especially the 'tough ones'," said Myra Kressner, senior vice president strategic development, Leadership Events & Integrated Media for CSP.

"The Arnie I remember is the one with an easy smile, a penchant for stories and a fountain of wisdom," added Mitch Morrison, CSP vice president and editorial director. "Arnie was among the most decent people I've known. He was predisposed toward positive thinking, observing the good in people and assessing both strengths and weaknesses with an uncanny eye."

Jim Dickens, CSP's former chief operating officer, considered Van Zanten a mentor as he prepared for retirement. "I thank Arnie for his role at CSP and in my life, and give him much credit for where my family and I are in life today," he said. "He will be sorely missed by me and so many."

"We are blessed to have had such a remarkable husband and father to share our lives with," said wife Gail Van Zanten. "He leaves behind a legacy of wisdom and inspiration."

He was preceded in death by his parents Margaret and Arnold Van Zanten. He is survived by his wife Gail, daughter Kirsten Sarginger (Jon), son John Van Zanten (Hillarie) and brother Alexander Van Zanten (Judy). "Grandpa Beach" will always be remembered by his grandchildren Ellie and Zachary Sarginger and Jack, Isabelle and Alex Van Zanten for the fun times at the beach.

Van Zanten will be remembered for his kind and generous ways, love of teaching and business acumen. He served on the Hope College Board of Trustees, Holland, Mich., for 12 years. He loved boating, the arts, traveling and spending time with his family.

In lieu of flowers, donations are welcome in memory of Arnie to Hope College, attention -Van Zanten Family Scholarship. Donations may be mailed to: Jim Van Heest, Hope College, P.O. Box 9000, Holland, MI 49422. A celebration of Arnie's life will be held on Friday, Aug. 23, 2013, at Moss Feaster Funeral Home, 13401 Indian Rocks Rd., Largo, Fla.