Faced with his competitors’ ability to undercut his company on retail gas and cigarette prices, the chain dove heavily into foodservice, hiring new food-centric staff, building out its made-on-site offers and hiring three professional chefs to help develop grab-and-go meals. The chain’s newest location offers fresh meat, fruit and produce in a 7,000-square-foot store, mimicking what MacDougall would describe as the mom-and-pop “superette” that had disappeared from his area.
After the video presentation, close friends and colleagues were visibly moved. David Williamson, a personal friend and industry colleague for more than 25 years, expressed his gratitude at being able to attend the event and called MacDougall “the most wonderful business partner anyone could have.”
Indeed, MacDougall took a moment while accepting his award to acknowledge his supplier partners, calling them an important part of a triangle of stakeholders, including the chain’s employees and Nice N Easy customers.
MacDougall on MacDougall
“This has blown me away,” MacDougall said when he took the stage to accept his award. “I have so much respect for the people who have won before me, and respect for Paul [Reuter] and the organization he built.”
He called himself “lucky,” believing naively when he first got the opportunity to run his own chain that he knew what he was doing. Far from it, he said: “May 2, 1971, I remember the day, every minute … I thought, ‘What have you gotten yourself into?’ ”
Gaining the trust and respect of business partners was one of his first steps toward success, making sure they understood that he would do his best to make good on the credit and inventory they were handing over. “If you have integrity and tell the truth, tell them the place you want to get to and how you’re going to get there and when, they’ll believe in you,” he said.
Eventually, he did turn around the business that he joined. His next step, he said, was to build a solid team. One of his greatest accomplishments was identifying leaders and developing their talents as c-store retailers. But they’re not just retailers, he said; they’re ambassadors of a culture. “They bleed Nice N Easy,” he said.
But again, beneath that seemingly pollyanna veneer was his determination to succeed, especially as governmental and competitive forces proved merciless. Problems such as government taxation issues, cutthroat competition and an aging population were serious issues.