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General Merchandise

Mr. RaceTrac

Carl Bolch Jr. says "Retail Leader" award a tribute to employees, family
LAS VEGAS -- In an emotional evening of tribute and recognition, Carl Bolch Jr., the chairman and CEO of RaceTrac Petroleum, accepted CSP's 2009 Retail Leader of the Year award for pioneering forecourt retailing in the Southeast and making an indelible mark on the convenience industry overall.

Crediting much of his success to the foundation his father builtwhat today is a 575-store, Atlanta-based company celebrating its 75th yearBolch Jr. said he was the winner of the "ovarian lottery," setting a light-hearted tone for a night that would reveal many facets of a man who is [image-nocss] both a humble father and an astute businessman.

"The toughest job is to meet the customer every day," Bolch Jr. told the 300-plus gathering of some of the most-recognizable convenience retailers. He noted how the chain's leadership "suffers no fools... and is a proponent of a free exchange of ideas."

A video introduction, in which numerous family and top RaceTrac executives participated, noted Bolch Jr.'s competitive nature, probing intellect and passion for the undiscovered. His wife, Susan, spoke of a time in his early childhood where Bolch Jr. was told by his father to pick up bottles around the property they called home. Instead of doing it himself, Bolch Jr. invited his friends over for a game of touch football. But once they arrived, he told them the game wouldn't start until all the bottles were picked up.

The video presentation also cataloged RaceTrac's history, starting with its departure from a branded-fuel strategy to an unbranded approach. Subsequently, the maverick chain took on the majors full-steam, developing the discipline to reinvent itself as a discount retailer. Bolch Jr. joined the company in 1967 and helped pioneer the concepts of self-serve and high-volume "super pumpers."

Click hereto view the video presentation.

Veteran employees such as Robert Dumbacher, CFO for RaceTrac, said the stores back then were small, kiosk-style formats, with soda in a machine back by the bathrooms. "Quite different from the more than the 5,000-square-foot stores we're building today."

Others who were videotaped spoke of the qualities that characterized Bolch Jr. and his leadership style. Max Lenker, RaceTrac's president, said Bolch Jr. "has the ability to distill a problem to its essence, to gather facts, and he makes the correct decision a high percentage of the time."

"[His leadership qualities] include a natural entrepreneurship and ability to come up with new ideas on how to do the things we do every day," said Allison Moran, senior vice president of operations and Bolch Jr.'s daughter. "He questions constantly, tries to learn more and debate to come up with the best solution."

Another daughter, Melanie, said her father has a competitive nature, often telling her, "I can always win if I get to pick the game."

Later, standing at the podium to accept the award, Bolch Jr. individually acknowledged many on his senior-management team, asserting his confidence in the company going forward and telling the crowd, "Competition provides no rest."

In one of the more sentimental moments of the night, Bolch Jr. thanked his parents, fighting back emotion to say, "You may have been gone a long time, but you're here with me tonight."

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