Convenience Store News

DEC 2016

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32 Convenience Store News | DECEMBER 2016 | WWW.CSNEWS.COM The development of electric cars and driverless vehicles is also likely to have an impact on the c-store industry, the new Hall of Famer predicts. "It wouldn't surprise me in 15-20 years if demand is quite differ- ent," he said. Johnson cites the implementation of technology in c-store operations as one of the biggest changes he has personally witnessed. When he entered the busi- ness, c-stores were seen as lagging behind on almost any technology front that one could list, but the very nature of c-store retailers caused that to change. "They're an entrepreneurial group and they're very nimble and innovative, so they've embraced tech and they've implemented technology across their entire enterprise in ways that many other retail formats haven't done," Johnson said. "We've gone from being tech laggards to being tech leaders, and being some of the most innovative retailing that's out there." According to Johnson, one of the advantages the c-store industry has that enables this kind of sweep- ing change is the fact that it is not designed around a product; it's designed around the concept of conve- nience and giving consumers back time in their days. "Increasingly, time is the most important commod- ity that any of us have, so I think consumers value that more than ever," he said. This applies whether retailers are selling gasoline, Twinkies or lottery. "It's not about the products you sell; it's how convenient is what you're doing in the eyes of the consumer. I think for the most part, the industry pays a lot of attention to that." CSN competing with each other," Johnson told CSNews. It was a significant difference from what he was accus- tomed to seeing in the restaurant, grocery and drug- store markets. "It just had a different feel, from an industry perspective, that I really liked. Since I'd been working at it, I thought I'll just try and stay in this industry. And now 26-27 years later, I'm still here." NACS President and CEO Hank Armour, who was heading West Star Corp. at the time, was one of those who provided guidance in those early years. Johnson noted that Armour was particularly helpful as Pinnacle built the concepts that its original prod- ucts were based on. "We started with really nothing," Johnson said. "That's been rewarding, but certainly had its share of struggles over the years." Today, with decades of success cementing Pinnacle's position in the c-store industry, an average week in Johnson's life includes a lot of meetings. But there's also a lot of variety in what he does. He prefers to stay actively involved in many aspects of the company, from marketing to new product development to meeting with clients. Johnson is careful not to think of success as an inevitability. "My wife still wants me to go out and get a regular job so I'm not sure that I've gotten there yet," he said with a laugh. "I think you're in trouble when you start to think of yourself as being successful. We've made it and most start- ups fail within the first few years, so from that perspective we've been really fortunate. I've had a great team to work with and some really fantastic cli- ent companies that we've worked with over the years. And the industry's been really good to us." In addition to business success, Johnson and Pinnacle have been recognized by numerous industry awards programs. In 2012, Johnson was inducted into the PCATS (now Conexxus) Technology Hall of Fame, and Pinnacle is a four-time winner of Microsoft's Retail Application Developer Award. Looking to the future of c-stores, Johnson is partic- ularly fascinated by the industry's continued evolution of foodservice, which he calls " one of the future pillars of the industry." cover story Bob Johnson is welcomed into the supplier wing of the Hall of Fame by Convenience Store News Editorial Director Don Longo. Johnson gave special thanks to his wife and high school sweetheart Judy during his award acceptance speech.

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