Up, Up and Away

Coverage of CSP's Outlook Leadership 2013.

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Numbers from the Flyboys

Maverick and Goose presenting industry numbers? Did someone steal Doc Brown’s DeLorean? Is this the mid-’80s?
 
No, we’re talking about Brad Call (above, right) and David Carpenter, two accomplished convenience operators who are, respectively, chairman and most recent past chairman at NACS.
 
Paying homage to an era that embraced embracing two terms of Ronald Reagan and Gordon Gekko’s Wall Street, Call and Carpenter pedaled onto the Outlook stage in aviators and flight suits. Call said he had given up his suit and tie for what he feared would be the “dumbest, cheesiest, stupidest presentation of your life.”
 
Honoring the spirit of a film that preceded the birth of the digital generation, Call and Carpenter—who also head up their own businesses, Maverik Inc. and J.D. Carpenter Cos.—referenced “Top Gun” songs to introduce a few targeted, rapid-fire themes.
 
It started with “Take My Breath Away” by Berlin. “Overall, industry sales took my breath away because they are so amazing,” Call wailed, scooting around like a lab mouse trapped in a labyrinth.
 
It was nice to learn that the c-store channel was No. 1 among retail channels in the sale of gas, cigarettes, OTP, beer, candy and lottery. It was pretty cool to appreciate that the industry’s 160 million transactions per day topped by nearly 50% the number of households who watched last year’s Super Bowl.
 
But surely such figures could not compare to Call’s somewhat flat rendition of The Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling.” When Carpenter queried what connection the song could have to the c-store industry, Call replied, “It’s about getting back what you lost.” And that meant two things: gasoline and cigarette sales.
 
To which Carpenter, at least for gas, chimed in, “It’ ain’t coming back, folks. It could get worse.” In a moment of seriousness, he cited declining fuel consumption since 2007 and Café Standards that by raising mileage standards will only hasten the decline of trips to the pump. And both agreed that cigarette sales would continue their decline, hopefully offset in the near future by a robust e-cigarette sector.

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