Industry advocacy is a way of life for Dee Dhaliwal. Aside from owning three Chevron-branded c-stores in the San Francisco market, he serves on the member services and convention committees of NACS, co-founded the American Petroleum and Convenience Store Association (APCA) and is on the executive committee for the California Independent Oil Marketers Association (CIOMA). As a part of CIOMA, he has provided local media with a c-store retailer’s perspective on regulations, including a recent push by Bay Area communities to further restrict tobacco products—a regulatory wave he helped beat back. 

His involvement started more than a decade ago, when Dhaliwal was introduced by the late Dennis DeCota, former executive director of the California Service Station and Automotive Repair Association, to the idea of giving back to the industry.

“He used to be really passionate about the industry, and got me excited about everything,” Dhaliwal says of DeCota. “He took me to my first NACS Show.”

Despite the amount of time that Dhaliwal spends on association work, he believes it has allowed him to be influential with local, state and federal lawmakers in advocating for the c-store industry. It has also broadened his horizons about retail developments outside of California.

For 2018 and 2019, Dhaliwal is thinking big. For his own business, which had fallen in store count over the past few years, Dhaliwal plans to build an environmentally conscious c-store, and he is in talks with charging-station providers, solar-panel installers and more to help him create one of the industry’s greenest locations to date.

The 5,000-square-foot store would also include a quick-service restaurant. And he hopes to take increasingly greater leadership positions in the industry.

It seems like an ambitious task list for a small retailer. But Dhaliwal sees it quite differently.

“It’s not necessarily large groups that make a difference,” he says. “It’s the people with the loudest voice.”

900—Members of the APCA, which Dhaliwal co-founded to help small retailers find a voice in the wider industry