Budhwani: A Voice for Small Operators

By 
Angel Abcede, Senior Editor/Tobacco, CSP

Photography by Lenny Gilmore
Rahim Budhwani

HOOVER, Ala. -- Rahim Budhwani has had a whirlwind year as NACS’ ­2016-2017 chairman. CEO of Hoover, Ala.-based 6040 LLC, a 12-store chain, Budhwani has been able to reach out to one-store operators and persuade many to participate in legislative causes and educational activities. Here are some of his thoughts as his term comes to a close.

Q: How would you describe your past year as chairman?

A: An amazing experience. It’s also humbling. I am chairman of an association that has great respect that goes beyond our industry, and I continually heard people telling me how much NACS is admired. It goes beyond just within our industry and it’s global in scope. But even more than that, we are a people business, and I loved meeting so many people during my travels.

Q: What was your most memorable experience?

A: We don’t have space to list them all—and my term isn’t over yet, so there may be others. And I don’t want to give away some of the stories I will tell at this year’s NACS Show. But I think the most memorable would be standing on the NACS Show stage accepting the chairmanship with my mom and dad sitting in the front row. I will cherish that memory for a lifetime.

Q: What surprised you the most?

A: It’s not necessarily surprising, but it was interesting to see that all small operators, no matter which part of the country they are from, have the same goals and the same issues. Everyone has the American dream in mind and are constantly working hard to achieve that.

Q: What has been most on the minds of NACS members?

A: Mostly trying to look at what the numbers are telling us today and the trends that could affect our business tomorrow. The NACS State of the Industry numbers provide context for benchmarking around what we are doing now. And there are some great research reports and tools from NACS, Conexxus and the Fuels Institute to help us look at the future, whether it’s the growth of electric vehicles or healthy choices in stores.

Q: What has been your biggest accomplishment?

A: I have spent the past few years encouraging ethnic trade associations and other groups to become more active in our legislative processes. We need to speak as one industry as often as we can to tell our story.

Q: Do you think more work needs to be done?

A: Yes! This is the just the beginning. I think I may have just found the door to the cave. We have to still walk in and find all the “treasures” that are lying in there. It’s not easy to engage all 90,000-some one-store operators, but we are making progress. And the effort is worth it.