Telling the Industry’s Story

By Chris Blasinsky

As Henry Armour, Frank Gleeson and Julie Jackowski, crafted their speeches for this year’s NACS Show general sessions, all three wanted to tell stories about their journey and experiences in the convenience and fuel retailing industry.

Armour, president and CEO of NACS since 2005, has a treasure trove of stories to tell about his industry experiences. He grew up grew up working in his family’s retail businesses, Armour Oil Company, and founded West Star Corporation, a chain of 59 NOW! convenience stores, truck stops and quick-service restaurants in the Pacific Northwest until he sold the company in 2004.

His industry story resonates with many industry peers: from family, culture, growing a company and selling a company, to association engagement and leadership. But the story he will tell is not about where he came from—it’s where he went.

In August, Armour embarked on a six-day, 3,000-mile road trip from Washington, D.C., to his home in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Along the way he visited with more than a dozen NACS retailer and supplier members. “We are a great industry,” said Armour. “We should rejoice in that and tell our stories.”

You’ll hear Frank Gleeson talk about “the 8th of the 8th,” his favorite day as NACS chairman. “That was the day I was in Ithaca, New York, speaking at the NACS Executive Leadership Program at Cornell University” on August 8. On the final day of the program, industry leaders and mentors share their insights and advice with participants as they reflect on their own leadership styles and capabilities. 

Gleeson, president of Aramark Northern Europe, will share a story about his colleague, Kevin, who attended the NACS program this year. “What he told me about his experience there was almost exactly what I told my boss back in 2003,” said Gleeson, reflecting that the week-long course essentially transformed his career.

Incoming NACS Chairman Julie Jackowski, senior vice president and corporate general counsel at Casey’s, didn’t grow up in the industry. She was working for a small law firm in Iowa practicing employment law when an in-house legal position at Casey’s General Stores. Her colleagues encouraged her to apply, and you’ll have to hear for yourself what happened during the interview with former CEO Ron Lamb.

Lamb also told her something that has stuck throughout her 25-year career at Casey’s: “Julie, you need to understand that if you come to work for Casey’s, an attorney is no better than our part-time donut makers.” His point, says Jackowski, was that every person who works at Casey’s, regardless of education or title, is vital to the company’s overall success.

From the small, family-owned company to international chains, the global convenience and fuel retailing industry has a powerful story. We’re looking forward to sharing stories about our industry this year at the NACS Show, and we look forward to the stories you and your teams will tell.

About Chris Blasinsky
Chris Blasinsky is a content communications strategist at NACS and can be reached at cblasinsky@convenience.org.


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