'Dave From Iowa' Takes the Reins

New NACS chairman Carpenter encourages retailers to help shape future of industry

Melissa Vonder Haar, Freelance Writer

Dave Carpenter

LAS VEGAS-- "Whoever is the next president of the United States will have a mess on their hands," said reigning NACS chairman Tom Robinson, opening up the closing session of the 2012 NACS Show in Las Vegas. "However, the next NACS chairman will inherit a business at its peak."

"Dave, don't mess it up," Robinson said, officially passing the torch to the president and CEO of Urbandale, Iowa-based J.D. Carpenter Cos. Inc.--Dave Carpenter.

Humbly referring to himself as just "Dave from Iowa," the new chairman reminisced on how he came to be involved with NACS.

"My first response was 'I do not belong here;," Carpenter said of pulling up to his first NACS Leadership Conference and seeing the fancy cars of the successful CEO's in attendance; however, his attitude quickly changed when the future chairman got into the meetings, where he saw that "everyone was there to learn."

Carpenter again suffered an inferiority complex after being inducted to the NACS board, among the likes of several hundred store operators such as Chet Cadieux of QuikTrip and Warren Wilmot of 7-Eleven (as opposed to Carpenter's 16). Once again, Carpenter came to realize that the convenience store industry is not solely about size.

"Our industry is not one of haves and have-nots," said Carpenter. "The biggest industry operators have come to my stores to see what we're doing--and I've gone to theirs."

It's this concept of working together that Carpenter believes will power the industry forward in an era of change, two of the most crucial changes being to motor fuel policies and swipe fees.

"We can have a motor fuels policy and we should be the ones shaping and guiding it," he said, pointing out that if the fuel retailers don't get involved in the policy-making, other groups like environmentalists and manufacturers will.

And for swipe fees, "the next step is building and defining a market. We have to find a better way to process payments--it's an $11 billion problem for the industry."

Trying to solve such widespread issues is quite a daunting task; however, Carpenter urged retailers big and small to get involved and have a say in the solution, using the connections--or "con-NACS-tions" as Carpenter has dubbed them--to work together.

"I'm not scared of change; I'm only scared if we don't have a say," said Carpenter. "We'll all play a role in shaping our future, whether it's 10 years down the road or next week."

NACS also named the following retail members to the NACS Executive Committee:

  • NACS vice chairman-treasurer: Brad Call, general counsel and executive vice president of adventure culture at North Salt Lake, Utah-based Maverik Inc.
  • NACS vice chairman of convention: Patrick Lewis, partner at Twin Falls, Idaho-based Oasis Stop 'N Go Convenience Stores.
  • NACS vice chairman of member services: Jack Kofdarali, president at Corona, Calif.-based J&T Management Inc.
  • NACS vice chairman of government relations: Steve Loehr, vice president of operations support at La Crosse, Wis.-based Kwik Trip Inc.
  • NACS vice chairman of NACSPAC, Peter Tedeschi, president and CEO at Rockland, Mass.-based Tedeschi Food Shops.
  • NACS vice chairman of research: Joseph Sheetz, executive vice president of finance and store development at Altoona, Pa.-based Sheetz Inc.
  • NACS vice chairman: Tony Kenney, president at Enon, Ohio-based Speedway LLC.

Also on the NACS Executive Committee are 2011-12 NACS chairman Tom Robinson, president of Robinson Oil Corp., Santa Clara, Calif., and 2010-11 NACS chairman Jeff Miller, president of Miller Oil Co. Inc., Norfolk, Va.

See File Attachments below for their biographies.