Betting on Sam

The untold story of a big ConocoPhillips gamble and the ambitions of a new c-store giant.

Samantha Oller, Senior Editor/Fuels, CSP

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In talking to Sam Hirbod, you quickly pick up on some things.  

He is always plugged in, juggling a BlackBerry and iPhone in two hands, a Bluetooth headset next to an ear. He’s courteous, but he has one eye fixed on the business at all times.

He embraces buzzwords: creativity, brand, backstops, change, deep dives, differentiation, transparency. He has a professor’s tendency toward the Socratic method of answering a question with a question.

And Hirbod, president and CEO of Pacific Convenience & Fuels LLC (PC&F), San Ramon, Calif., is keenly aware of the widespread interest in his company and the speculation about its stunning August 2008 acquisition of ConocoPhillips’ nearly 600-strong store network—a surprising twist in the continuing tale of major oil’s retail sell-off. 

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