Nice Guys Finish First

Jim Bursch, Senior Vice President, Group Publisher & Editorial Director, CSP

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It’s hard to believe that another NACS Show has come and gone. It means we are winding down another year while we’re busy planning for the coming year. As it always is, the NACS Show is both energizing and exhausting. For me, it’s a four- to five-day blur of early morning breakfast meetings, education sessions, walking many miles a day visiting customers up and down the show floor, and then networking at parties each night that go into the wee hours. I usually come back tired and in need of some sleep. But with so much to follow up on, it never seems to happen, and before you know I’m re-energized and ready to hit the road again. 
Although I visit and see many operators and suppliers throughout the year, The NACS Show always feels like a college reunion. While I visit with many current customers, I always find friends and business associates I may not have seen since last year, but we end up picking up right where we left off. 
It’s been said many times that the c-store channel is unique. People might change companies, but seldom do you find them leaving the industry. The openness and sharing of information and friendships that are formed with suppliers and operators is simply like no other channel. We may compete with each other, and certainly we all want to win and grow, but we all seem to have a great deal of respect for each other and have a fun time doing what we do. 
Just prior to The NACS show, a well-known operator hosted a small group of folks for some great golf and dinners for a few days. Along with me and some other industry suppliers, there were two former beverage executives, recently retired, who during their time competed as hard as anyone to beat each other—but based on their camaraderie at this event, you would have never known that. You would have thought they were on the same team or old college friends. 
This open and friendly type of person our industry attracts and retains continues to make it special. I feel very fortunate to work in an industry that I truly love and enjoy. Publishing is very rewarding but hard work, and I, like most of us running a business, have to deal with daily challenges, disappointments or unhappy customers. But those issues are few and far between, and they pale in comparison to the highs and enjoyment I get from the people we get to meet and cover editorially or customers we do business with every day. 
You don’t have to look too far to find examples of those highs. The floor at the recent NACS Show in Atlanta was packed with the latest products and services, and folks from all over the country and world filled the aisles and booths. And for the past 11 years, CSP has hosted, along with our supplier partners, our Retail Leader of the Year dinner, a 350-person celebration of a special operator for his or her leadership and contribution to the industry. This is one of my favorite events of the year because we bring the top operators and suppliers together to celebrate one of our industry’s best leaders and companies. 
But it’s always without exception that personal stories, humility and praise from their family, friends and team affect me the most. This year was no different as we honored John MacDougall of Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes. John has been a friend of CSP’s team for many years, and I can’t image anyone more deserving of receiving this honor. Through his passion, vision and determination, he overcame obstacles and built a great organization. He’s a great leader.
The takeaway I got is that John’s success in not measured in dollars or the size of his company. It’s better measured in the people he has touched and the culture and team that he has fostered. John, like many other successful operators and suppliers, is really just a nice guy. And although we were all taught growing up that nice guys finish last, I can tell you it’s not true in John’s case, nor with many others in this great channel. Nice guys do finish first. 
Look for more on John and our celebration in our December issue. I’ll see you all around the campus in the coming months. 

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