CHICAGO -- Joe Sheetz officially accepted the job of chairman onstage at the NACS Show in Chicago on Oct. 20, emphasizing family roots in the channel, evolution of a culture that supports both employees and customers, and a focus on community, which has also been championed by previous general-session speakers.
At the last general session of the four-day conference, Sheetz accepted the position from outgoing chairman, independent retailer Rahim Budhwani, CEO of 6040 LLC, Hoover, Ala., with the symbolic passing of a small wooden gavel.
Sheetz, currently the president and CEO of 530-store Sheetz Inc., Altoona, Pa., said today’s convenience store is “a place that makes that part of [a customer’s] day better.”
He described the equal importance of labor issues and changing notions of what convenience means. With regards to workers, Sheetz said the industry faces challenges of finding and retaining ideal employees—people with the desire to serve customers and carry on an open, friendly culture. At Sheetz, he said, timing is everything. Often a qualified applicant comes in when no jobs are available. The company keeps in touch with the applicant, sending out alerts when openings occur.
As for the customers, Sheetz said not all customers want to get in and get out. Some want a place to slow down, order food and eat in a comfortable environment. At the same time, Silicon Valley disruptors are redefining convenience, offering home-delivered c-store products with the click of a button. At Sheetz, he said, they’re always talking about the “business that will put Sheetz, as we know it today, out of business.”
Sheetz also reviewed the history behind his own family business. Going back three generations, the company began as a dairy, where home delivery was central—a harbinger of today’s home-delivery craze. He spoke about living above the first Sheetz convenience store and how it eventually grew as a c-store chain into a formidable gasoline retailer.
Turning to community-building, Sheetz spoke of the company's charity, Sheetz for the Kidz, which delivers toys and clothes to needy families during the holidays. He mentioned that as an industry, c-store retailers raise $990 million annually, indicating to the several thousand NACS attendees at the session, “No industry is more grounded in communities than we are.”