Here’s to the Entrepreneur

By  Paul Reuter, Chairman emeritus and contributing editor

Article Preview: 

This month’s cover story is about a lot more than Dean Durling. It really is a great example of what has made our industry survive and thrive.

Imagine for a moment our industry having its own balance sheet. Assuming such a balance sheet, its major assets would unquestionably be the industry’s entrepreneurial spirit, willingness to share and its great leadership.

Regardless of all the talk around industry consolidation, even the largest chains, such as Circle K, are run by an entrepreneur at heart. We are witnessing stores shifting: 7-Eleven moving to a total franchising operation, oil-company- owned stores being sold off to entrepreneurs and jobbers moving many of their stores to dealers. So the wheel of change is cycling right back to the entrepreneur.

Whether through more formal study groups, industry trade press or our trade associations, the entrepreneur has been a willing teacher, sharing his or her experiences with others. You just don’t find this within other retail industries so dominated by a handful of large companies. We have survived and thrived, while others have not, because of these dynamics and, perhaps most important, the leadership our industry has shown. Maybe that’s why my favorite activity of all we do at CSP is our Retail Leader of the Year selection, celebration, research and sharing.

When you find great leaders, you need to learn from them and you need to celebrate them. The work on our Retail Leader of the Year begins a full year before the event. The selection process is begun by our editors, who themselves are students of the industry they research and report on daily. Once we finalize our honoree acceptance, we invest a year to understand from all angles what makes this person the leader he or she is.

Dean Durling and the leadership he has brought to Quick Chek is in many ways typical of what has made this industry great—but by no means can we call Dean typical!

If you were among the nearly 400 who joined us for dinner in Atlanta, or who have been lucky enough to pay a visit to Quick Chek, you will see a wonderful example of our industry at its very best. (For our cover story on Dean Durling, see story on p. 40; for coverage of our Retail Leader of the Year event, see p. 62.)

And speaking of leadership and greatness, I would like to thank all who responded to my October column and contributed to the Matt West Memorial Fund. I am so pleased to report that we have had an outpouring of donations in amounts from $10 to several generous contributions of $10,000. To date we have raised nearly $50,000 for Matthew West’s family. If you need more information, please e-mail me at preuter@cspnet.com. We will continue our effort through the holiday season.

Again, thank you to all who contributed and in a BIG way said, “We appreciate Matt West and all the men and women who risk and sacrifice their lives in order to protect ours.”

On a personal note, after three years of pursuit, one of my key “bucket list” items was finally fulfilled. I had the opportunity to walk in this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade as a clown. It was fun to see the smiles on so many as I tossed confetti and shook hands along the parade route.

Walking the parade only reinforced the message to me that as much as we see ourselves being different, we are all the same, regardless of size, age or color. And that’s what we experience in this special time of the year. We all have so much to be thankful for. To that end, from all of us at CSP to all of you, may we wish you a joyous and healthy new year.  

Click here to download full article