NACS Tech Group Adopts New Name: Conexxus

PCATS rebrands, focuses on energized mission, new image

Angel Abcede, Senior Editor/Tobacco, CSP

Loring Perez, Jenny Bullard and Hank Armour PCATS (CSP Daily News / Convenience Stores)

Loring Perez (left), Jenny Bullard and Hank Armour.

TUCSON, Ariz. -- To the surprise of many attendees, the Petroleum Convenience Alliance for Technology Standards, known by its acronym, PCATS, announced a complete rebranding, changing its name to "Conexxus" after the second full day of its annual conference and ushering a new reimaging program to better garner industry support and participation in its efforts.

After undergoing a third-party evaluation and marketing study, the technology arm of the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), decided to go with the suggested name, Conexxus, as a way to adopt a new image of relevance for an industry rapidly undergoing technological change--everything from mobile payments to increased business analytics.

Gray Taylor, executive director of PCATS and now of the newly renamed organization, said the old brand was akin to a reliable, conservative, older techie named "Walter." The new name would connote a more passionate, forward-thinking organization addressing technology issues beyond what may be considered a narrow vision of establishing common industry standards.

Meanwhile, in a simple but thoughtful awards reception and ceremony, retailers and association officials representing the convenience store industry's technology community honored three founding members of its standards group by inducting them into the group's Hall of Fame at the end of the first official day of business at the group's four-day conference this past Monday.

The PCATS event started with general sessions on an array of topics including the convergence of online and brick-and-mortar retailing and cloud computing. About 100 attendees listened to issues ranging from omnichannel commerce to customer analytics and public, private and hybrid cloud models to the cost of ownership.

PCATS inducted the three founding members into the group's Hall of Fame, among them, Hank Armour, the current head of NACS.

In an acceptance speech, Armour said he knew of "no stronger community" within the c-store channel than its technology providers, many who have been together since the association first organized a technology committee back in the 1990s. "I remember when we had to reinvent products and software," Armour said. "Nothing was standardized."

He spoke of having to present the proposal to NACS to organize the standards group--a $1.5 million deal over three years--and receiving both pushback but eventually acceptance by association leadership.

"It became the glue to a fragmented industry," Armour said, adding that its formation helped the association tackle swipe-fee legislation just a couple of years ago. "Swipe-fees [efforts] were built upon … what was started in the technology process."

Other inductees included Jenny Bullard, CIO of the Flash Foods chain based in Waycross, Ga., and Loring Perez, president of Chattahoochee Oil Co., in Auburn, Ala.

Bullard thanked her mentors for their encouragement and helpful executives such as Hank Armour who indoctrinated her into the work of developing industry standards.

Perez said that despite how the chain he worked for at the time was sold, he was pleased to see the technology efforts have continued to today.

The conference will continue through Thursday with meetings on such topics as mobile payments, business-to-business communication and data security.

Angel Abcede, CSP/Winsight By Angel Abcede, Senior Editor/Tobacco, CSP
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