Rob Razowsky is CEO of Rmarts LLC, Deerfield, Ill., which has operated more than 30 locations in the Chicago and Milwaukee markets, including c-stores, car washes and foodservice. Razowsky also is a founding member of Royal Buying Group, Lisle, Ill., and serves on its executive committee and board.
In 2014, Rmarts remodeled a gas station at a busy intersection in suburban DuPage County to its a new concept, Fillinup. The c-store is about 600 square feet. In 2016, Pilot Corp. built a travel center across the street with a 9,000-square-foot store. “So we’ve adapted,” he said. “It has been about a year and a half of some pain and suffering. We raised some margins, and we are surviving, although we are not doing the volume that we were doing.”
But for c-stores, he said, “the name of the game is still location, personal service and unique offering that will allow you to stand out in the marketplace.”
Big retailers are challenged with adapting to changes and trends in the marketplace, Razowsky said: “You need to adapt quickly and find contemporary trends and make those changes as often as you can.”
Rmarts resets its stores often and leverages its relationships with its distributors and wholesalers “to take advantage of their knowledge and ability to recognize those changes and shifts in trends,” he said.
He also suggests seeking out new profit generators. “Convenience-store trends and preferences still favor local businesses, fresh product options and wide variety and the ability to customize,” Razowsky said. “These trends tend to play very well for the independent convenience operator.”
Finally, he said, “We know most of our employees and their families. A lot of my success over the years has just been maintaining great relationships with employees.”