ANDERSON, Ind. -- With the Baby Boomers now sowing their retirement plans, the convenience channel, perhaps more than most retail sectors, is stepping on the runway of change. Already, a wave of 20 and 30-somethings are catapulting to category directors and those but a few years older to the c-suite of CEOs, COOs, CIOs and CMOs.
Such is the case with Quinn Ricker, recently becoming president and CEO of the 50-store Ricker's chain based in Anderson, Ind. With business role models who include his parents, Jay and Nancy; Savannah, Ga., retailer Greg Parker; and Rick Deneau, an accounting consultant, Quinn Ricker takes the helm with a grounded yet ambitious leadership style.
Quinn RickerHe puts emphasis on employee stewardship, balancing fact with creativity and developing communication and work processes that foster accountability and progress. Growing up in the company, he's mowed lawns and worked every job from cashier to district manager. "I've had some bad jobs, but it made me passionate for our people."
As a way to illustrate an important, transitional period in the channel's history, CSP magazine interviewed more than a dozen new industry leaders, detailing their insights and revelations in its February cover story, "The Kids Are All Right."
For many of these leaders, convenience retailing is in their blood, inheriting their passion from a multi-generation tradition that sometimes dates back to their great-grandparents. Others step into the c-store life with their own degrees and histories in retail, confident in the potential of an ever-changing channel.
Either way, they balance the excitement of a technological age with the weight of leadership and the double-edged sword of what could be.
And don't think that family ties automatically lock sons, daughters, nieces or nephews into leadership positions. Because convenience retail as a business is so hands-on, succession is a matter of personal pride and integrity.
"If you're going to turn over the business to one of your children or to anyone for that matter, you really want to make sure they're ready and prepared to ensure its continued existence, hopefully a prosperous one," said Steve Montgomery, president of c-store consulting firm b2b Solutions, Lake Forrest, Ill. "No one wants to say they turned the business over to their son and he ruined it. You spent your life building it. It's your legacy."
Growing up, many of the first-, second- and even third-generation leaders were advised to explore the world, develop outside careers before deciding to join the family business. Quinn Ricker spent five years outside the company as a financial advisor.
And like many family-owned business leaders, Quinn Ricker has seen the chain grow from a small, close-knit company to a larger, more formal organization. "We've always been family oriented and you try not to lose that along the way," he says. "So you try to stay focused, care about everyone and give everyone a better life."