Honoring Dean Durling

CSP, industry friends recognize Quick Chek leader's "restless dissatisfaction"

Samantha Oller, Senior Editor/Fuels, CSP

ATLANTA -- More than 300 family, friends and business associates gathered at the Ritz-Carlton in Atlanta on Thursday night to recognize the many accomplishments of Dean Durling, president and CEO of Quick Chek Food Stores Inc., Whitehouse Station, N.J., and CSP's 2010 Retail Leader of the Year. The room was bedecked with an outdoor theme to reflect Durling's passion for equestrian sports and fox hunting--a theme that would appear again at the end of the night.

Bob Page, former head of Quick Chek and a mentor to Durling throughout his career at the company, emceed the night [image-nocss] of accolades. He began his remarks by paraphrasing President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who once said, "Leadership is getting people to follow you, not because they have to, but because they want to."

For Durling, that leadership is rooted in his ability to connect with Quick Chek's team members on a personal level. Page noted that Durling's great love for his family naturally extended to Quick Chek's 2,500 employees.

During a film honoring Durling, board member Bruce Krysiak described him as a five-star leader, able to balance a results-oriented focus with thoughtfulness and caring. "He's a servant leader in the very best sense of the word," said Krysiak, former president of Toys 'R' Us Inc. and Dollar General Inc.

Click here to view the CSPTV feature on Quick Chek president and CEO Dean Durling, CSP's 2010 Retail Leader of the Year.

John Schaninger, Quick Chek vice president of sales and merchandising, described Durling as "a really average guy" who believes everyone is important and has a potentially great idea to share.

Board member Bob Robertson, former president and CEO of White Hen Pantry, gave credit to Durling's "restless dissatisfaction," the drive to always look for ways to improve the business rather than getting wrapped up in celebrating current successes. Another board member, Bill Shrader of Rising Sun Restaurant Group, said Durling "lives every day as if it was his last, but plans to live forever."

Durling has had two priorities for himself: Be the best husband and father he could be to wife Liz and his five children. He also promised to be the best leader of Quick Chek for this moment in time, and to establish a business model that could perpetuate itself and provide employees with successful, healthy and rich lives.

When he first learned of being named CSP Retail Leader of the Year, Durling realized the excellence of the Quick Chek team. His next thought was that the recognition came too early in his career, as Quick Chek had so many more accomplishments in the future. "The best is yet to come for us," he said.

"Despite that, I'm going to take advantage of the opportunity," said Durling.

It wasn't an honor Durling limited to himself. "Quick Chek has one of the best management teams and board of any retailer in the industry," he said, noting that the company, with 125 sites in New Jersey and New York, was one of the smallest chains to receive the recognition. He also thanked Quick Chek's vendors and fellow retailers for "helping us be what we are today."

For Durling, the award was simply one milestone "on my journey to be the best leader at Quick Chek." With that, he was presented with a fox hunting horn to blow to send off well wishers.