Convenience Store News’ fifth-annual Future Leaders in Convenience (FLIC) awards — presented Nov. 21 in Charlotte, N.C. — honored a record class of 33 young leaders from retailer, distributor and supplier companies in the c-store industry.
The 2022 Future Leaders in Convenience Summit not only celebrated the achievements of these up-and-comers (aged 35 or under at the time of their nomination), but also provided them with a forum and educational programming to further hone their leadership skills.
The 2022 Future Leaders in Convenience are:
• Heading up integrated marketing planning and in-store advertising for Casey’s 2,400 stores, Anderson oversees store signage and digital menuboards, along with the development of TV, billboard and radio campaigns. She is often brought in to assist with special projects, such as brand refreshes and remodels in select markets.
• Anderson received Casey’s Marketing Leader Award in 2021. She is lauded for spearheading integrated promotional planning for the retailer’s launch of its first-ever breakfast menu, as well as its annual “Summer of Freedom” sweepstakes.
• Anderson’s career in convenience retailing began at Kum & Go LC. There, her key contributions ranged from simplifying store communications through an online intranet, to streamlining the retailer’s monthly signage program, to managing and growing P&L for various segments within the packaged beverages category.
Casey’s General Stores Inc.
• Arnold is responsible for the marketing efforts of Englefield Oil, Duchess Convenience Stores and Tic Tac Taco Mexican Kitchen. This encompasses 120 locations across Ohio, and one store in West Virginia. He joined Englefield Oil in 2018 as marketing manager and was promoted to director of marketing in 2020.
• According to his nominator, Arnold has become an integral part of Englefield Oil’s team by leading the way with innovations in loyalty, new customer attraction and customer retention. Under his leadership, Duchess Convenience Stores earned the 2019 Paytronix Loyaltees Award for Exceptional Customer Engagement.
• Arnold was a founding board member of the Young Leaders of Licking County and has served as its board chair president since 2020.
Director of Marketing
Englefield Oil Co./Duchess Convenience Stores
• Bortner joined Rutter’s in 2016 as a category manager and was recently promoted to his current role. This promotion expanded the categories he oversees to include the center store and packaged beverages. He also manages the merchandising team for all of Rutter’s 82 convenience stores.
• The sphere of his responsibilities includes marketing, sales forecasting, pricing, space planning, vendor management, contract negotiations and inventory control. Under Bortner’s direction, product selection, programming and merchandising achieved double-digit CAGR growth across all categories.
• Because of his career working in sales at Mondelez International prior to joining Rutter’s, Bortner is uniquely positioned to understand the complexities of working for a large corporation and developing solutions. “Finding solutions and creating new methods to overcome challenges are Joe’s strengths, earning him accolades from his vendor community,” his nominator noted.
Senior Category Manager
• Reporting directly to the chief financial officer (CFO), Bowling assists accounts payable, oversees all of the company’s rebates and has her hands in other financial accounting matters. She is currently in line for a staff accountant position.
• Under guidance from the company’s One Leadership Consulting initiative, Bowling has learned what it means to be a leader and embodies that philosophy. According to her nominator, Bowling will be a CFO of a company at some point. “It may be this one, or it may be another one, but she will be a CFO,” he emphasized.
• Bowling is one of 10 2021-22 NACS Foundation Future Fund Scholarship recipients. She will receive her accounting degree from Montana State University Billings in December.
Sutey Oil Co./Thriftway Super Stops
• Carter joined Buc-ee’s in 2017, where she maintains internal communications for the company. In this role, she ensures organizational initiatives and projects are successfully conveyed to employees and field leadership through communication that is consistent across all mediums and different departments of the organization.
• Most recently, she oversaw the rollout of Opterus’ OPSCENTER, a multimodular cloud solution that is designed to streamline communication and task management to align with the geographical growth of an organization. The integration of the platform has led to effective store preparation, as well as increased employee satisfaction, which ultimately leads to reduced change management.
• Prior to Buc-ee’s, Carter worked for Dollar Tree for seven years, overseeing promotional programs, seasonal execution and visual merchandising.
• Cloud supports menu development, maintains nutritional labeling, and assists in creating foodservice marketing plans for 30-plus locations.
She is responsible for the continued compliance and menu development of EatFit, a program run by Oshner Health Systems and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana.
• Among her achievements, Cloud helped meet the needs of rural and inner-city communities that had limited access to affordable and nutritious food by installing cold grab-and-go cases that offer fresh produce such as fruit and vegetables, plus salads and wraps.
• Cloud was a 2022 finalist for Retail Dietitian of the Year, awarded by the Retail Dietitians Business Alliance. She was also selected as a social media ambassador for Dairy Max Inc., a nonprofit dairy council representing more than 900 dairy farms across eight states.
Director of Foodservice Compliance/Corporate Dietitian
ShopRite Inc./Bourbon Street Deli
Angelle Cloud, RDN, LDN
• In his role as director of marketing, Colemire leads the category management, brand marketing, field merchandising and pricing teams. Additionally, he has direct management of the fresh food and dispensed beverage categories, where he assisted in curating Stinker Stores’ in-house concepts, Pete’s Eats and 1936 Coffee Bar.
• Over the course of a decade in convenience retailing, Colemire has held various category management, marketing and operational roles. It is in these positions that he has been lauded for creating and streamlining food and beverage programs that generated more robust and QSR-comparable programs for c-store chains.
• Colemire is a standout contributor to the industry because of his passion, leadership and enthusiasm, his nominator commented.
Director of Marketing
• Cowan is responsible for creating solutions to address changing retail needs. The breadth of his reach comprises regulatory and vendor promotional requirements, sales optimization, product effectiveness, shrink control and age-based selling compliance. Among the key developments he has overseen at BandyWorks are quick loyalty and advanced analytics.
• He is co-author of “The C-Store Growth Mindset – Making Peace with Accountability,” which outlines how to incorporate a data-based accountability system within an organization. The book is the foundation of a workshop series Cowan leads, along with numerous live and online presentations and webinars for c-store management.
• During his tenure with BandyWorks, Cowan has received multiple accolades, including Highest Shrink Detection in 2022 and 2021, Best New Product Design in 2020, and Top Sales in 2019.
Director of Managed Services
• Cox is tasked with developing innovative equipment and product solutions to upgrade and enhance the beverage experience for 7-Eleven customers. He joined the company in 2021 as the product development manager of coffee, a role in which he focused on improving existing and new coffee products and sourcing.
• He has spent more than a decade evaluating the quality of coffee and specialty drinks. Throughout his career, he has owned and managed signature beverage concepts, overseen business development and served as an independent consultant.
• Cox holds multiple licenses and certifications in the industry from organizations such as Barista Guild of America and Specialty Coffee Association of America. He is a member of the 7-Eleven Young Professionals group.
Senior Product Developer of Proprietary Beverages
• Deitrich oversees Stuzo’s customer success team, which supports the design, implementation, operation and analysis of customer engagement programs for the convenience and fuel retailing industry. Her ability to educate and advocate for Stuzo has directly impacted the company’s continued year-over-year growth, her nominator noted.
• Thanks to her leadership and support, Deitrich has played an integral role in the success of retailers’ programs and ultimately, their digital transformations. For example, powered by Stuzo’s Open Commerce Product Suite, the CEFCO Rewards program experienced a 115 percent gain in incremental transactions per day, a 228 percent lift in member enrollment and a 461 percent lift in active members.
• Promoted ahead of the normal scheduled windows at Stuzo, Deitrich is regularly recognized as a rising star internally.
Vice President, Strategic Accounts
• Farrington leads the charge for developing the small-format grocery store supply chain into full-service community stores. His leadership in innovating the beverage space at Harbor Wholesale has resulted in double-digit growth for the past two years.
• The category manager joined the company in 2021 as a senior buyer and exhibited strong leadership with the launch of the distributor’s new forecasting software, Blue Yonder. Farrington received the 2021 Harbor President’s Award, which recognizes outstanding performance and a passion to live the Harbor values every day.
• Prior to Harbor Wholesale, Farrington was a purchasing agent for The Odom Corp., where he spearheaded the acquisition of Coca-Cola Hawaii from The Coca-Cola Co.
Category Manager, Grocery & Beverage
• Recognized as an integral part of the marketing department, Hammer leads all creative services at OnCue, overseeing signage, advertising, package design and brand management. She also manages all digital assets, including electronic signs, OnCue’s website and mobile app, online food ordering, kiosks, social media and more.
• She has focused her time on transforming OnCue’s customer experience in the digital age with new displays such as electronic menu signs, digital window screens and electronic shelf tags. Hammer was lauded by her nominator for helping transform OnCue’s food ordering kiosks into a customer-friendly process.
• She’s received recognition in the form of OnCue’s coveted Standing O Award, a district two corporate recognition award by the area’s general managers.
• Hogan has oversight of Mashgin’s sales efforts and existing customer relationships in verticals including convenience stores, corporate cafeterias, sports stadiums and universities. His reach spans more than 1,500 locations globally.
• He spearheaded Mashgin’s entry into the c-store market, expanding the company’s offerings to include capabilities for loyalty programs, and cash and fuel sales. He recently helped close Mashgin’s 7,000-location deal with Circle K, making it the largest self-checkout deployment in convenience store history, and the largest physical buildout of computer vision-powered hardware.
• Hogan was Mashgin’s top salesperson in 2020 and 2021. His efforts helped the company secure a $62.5 million Series B funding round, which catapulted Mashgin to a $1.5 billion valuation.
Vice President of Strategic Partnerships
• Jamal has been an integral part of the growth of the Chestnut Market c-store brand since its early beginnings, and contributed to the brand growing to more than 75 locations in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut since engaging full time in the family business in 2015.
• His talent for the execution of seamless new store openings, development/recruitment of a strong frontline store managerial base, and outstanding merchandising and purchasing skills has helped to move Chestnut Market forward with in-store sales growth well above current NACS industry averages.
• He participates in the ExxonMobil Brand Ambassador Program, and actively engages in community events with local leadership. Recently, he was recruited by New York Westchester County Executive
George Latimer to sit on the county’s business advisory council.
Director of C-store Operations
CPD Energy Corp./Chestnut Markets
• Jordan started with the family-owned business at the age of 10 stocking shelves. Now, as marketing specialist, he is responsible for the sales and gross profit of Hot Spot’s 41 locations, as well as store conditions, vendor communications and employee relations.
• According to his nominator, Jordan is a team player who works hard and is goal oriented. He’s also described as a servant leader who cares about his team members. As a member of NACS, he attends many industry events and shares ideas with other c-store operators.
• Throughout his career, Jordan has worked in customer-forward or sales positions, ranging from some of the largest companies in the world to retailers with less than a dozen locations. The singular theme has been him having a true passion for serving customers.
R.L. Jordan Oil Co./Hot Spot Convenience Stores
• Khan spearheads company operations and acquisitions for Shahani Inc., her family’s business. This includes commission agent pricing, new site development, supply contracts, tenant relationships and employee training for 35 sites in Connecticut and Rhode Island.
• Over the past four years, she has grown the business from 4 million fuel gallons a year to more than 20 million, and expanded the company from being just a Gulf distributor to now Gulf, BP and Phillips 66. She is working closely with Connecticut’s governor-elect candidate to bring fuel and energy-related opportunities to the state.
• Khan also oversees all office operations and since joining the family business full time, has digitized the back office to make the entire operation more efficient.
Company Operations & Acquisitions
• Leffew Montgomery manages UpShop’s account executive team, which solves clients’ foodservice operational challenges through technology, while building lasting relationships that help grow their business.
• According to her nominator, she is adept at educating the c-store market and delivering value to brands by identifying opportunities to synthesize, automate and optimize foodservice data. Her seasoned operations knowledge enables her to pinpoint key store-level growth potential and provide insight into value-added services and technology.
• Leffew Montgomery also led the client success team through a transition that enabled account management and sales to collaborate on product implementation and project management. She is regarded as the go-to person for many customers, and has steered some of the largest new deals in company history.
Director of Strategic Account Executives
Upshop (formerly Applied Data Corp.)
Sarah Leffew Montgomery
• Loukota owns the product roadmap for Circle K’s Smart Checkout Program and Next Generation Retail Platform. She took the program from pilot to scale, positioning the company to deploy 10,000 Smart Checkout machines over the next three years and boost the number of store transactions eligible for machine processing from 25 percent to more than 90 percent.
• She is known as a natural leader who understands every dimension of technology in the c-store industry and can manage large amounts of intense detail while developing solutions.
• Loukota has used her collaborative leadership style, innovative mindset and ability to engage with teams to launch several other game-changing projects for Circle K, including its Fuel Price Guarantee and EasyWay, the company’s artificial intelligence-based full frictionless store experience.
Director of Emerging Technologies
Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc./Circle K
• Marsh leads warehouse operations during order selection, and is responsible for managing internal deadlines, maintaining order quality and accuracy, and ensuring customer satisfaction.
• As a leader, she values dedication, honesty and transparency in order to build trust and demonstrate commitment. She provides training and coaching to help her employees meet goals for productivity and accuracy; works to maintain a safe, injury-free environment; and sets
a high example for her team.
• Her nominator noted that Marsh is determined to make every individual on her team successful, from new hires to veteran team members. She is regarded as the weathervane for her team’s positive attitude and morale.
Assistant Manager, PM Warehouse
• Miller oversees contract negotiations and implementation of new items and opportunities for the snacks and center store categories, among other duties. Since being promoted to her current role, she
has made a significant impact in a short time by implementing
new merchandising strategies to drive profitable growth despite
• She also helped to ensure that multiple new stores in several states opened on time by working with vendors on space and products, while ensuring that guests’ expectations were met upon opening and beyond.
• Miller actively participates in events, workshops and volunteer opportunities put on by RaceTrac’s LEAD program, which is designed to talk business, create networks, build future leaders, and focus on women in the workplace. According to her nominator, she has passion, a willingness to learn and a strong work ethic, which have led to her exceeding all expectations.
Associate Category Manager, Snacks & Travel Center
• Moore is responsible for the strategic direction, vision, growth and performance of the marketing department for Yesway and Allsup’s convenience stores, leading his team to help maximize store profitability and the in-store experience.
• In addition to overseeing advertising, signage, in-store execution and digital consumer engagement for both brands, he coordinates with suppliers and the merchandising team to deliver profitable sales growth across all stores and e-commerce; works with operations, merchandising and senior management to ensure brand marketing plans are executed with excellence; and oversees package design for the company’s private brand portfolio.
• Moore’s nominator describes him as a highly motivated marketer with a keen ability to make things happen. In a short time, he implemented digital advertising across all stores, helped increase loyalty penetration, and worked to complete numerous marketing projects that boosted sales growth.
• Nelson partners with Casey’s digital teams to drive digital transformation across the company’s network. Through strategy development, creative solutioning and advancing product management, he has a focus on delivering great experiences for Casey’ guests and team members.
• Nelson consistently brings different perspectives, approaches and toolsets to solve complex challenges and achieve desired outcomes, while building and supporting a strong team of product and engineering professionals.
• A recent graduate of Casey’s Leadership Excellence Program, he was chosen to represent the technology team at the company’s first-ever C3 field leadership conference. He is also a recipient of the Quarterly Team Member Spotlight, and regularly acknowledged by his peers for his collaboration and engagement to drive cross-functional initiatives.
Manager, Product Management
Casey’s General Stores Inc.
• Nuzum has a wide range of responsibilities encompassing all aspects of the hot and cold foods category, including the development of marketing programs, negotiation of trade vendor contracts, oversight of planograms and balancing store simplification efforts with driving innovation.
• In his less than four years with Casey’s, Nuzum has progressed from an entry-level, non-foods position to roles with increasing responsibility and greater sales impacts. This past year, he was heavily involved with the high-priority private label side of Casey’s business and contributed to significantly positive results.
• According to his nominator, Nuzum has an ability to look for creative solutions around traditional obstacles and provide a strategic vision of his goals and objectives. He is recognized internally as a top-performing category manager, and was honored as a monthly winner of Casey’s Ultimate Performer Award.
Senior Brand Manager, Prepared Foods
Casey’s General Stores Inc.
• Phelps sets the strategy for High’s merchandise and marketing activities, while directing the activities of its pricebook team and working directly with suppliers to negotiate contracts for the company.
• He is known to lead by example and be the first person to roll up his sleeves and pitch in on any initiative. Phelps has helped the company achieve double-digit sales growth for multiple years by thinking outside the box and quickly pivoting when needed.
• His nominator stated that Phelps is a servant leader who asks nothing of anyone else that he is not willing to do himself, and is always open to hearing and trying new ideas brought forward by his team. He gives credit where credit is due and celebrates the successes of the people he leads.
Vice President of Marketing
John Phelps Jr.
• Pritchard oversees 12 New Hampshire sites and is responsible for the supervision and management of their ongoing day-to-day convenience store and food concept operations. She also focuses on maximizing store profits and ensuring a high level of customer service, store appearance and environmental compliance.
• She oversees the hiring, training and morale for 100-plus employees in her territory and makes a point of sharing knowledge with her peers. She has established herself as a go-to point person for additional responsibility within the region.
• According to her nominator, Pritchard’s contributions and hard work during her career growth reflect the spirit of an emerging leader, as she looks for new challenges and champions new initiatives.
Global Partners LP
• Seeley oversees a team that specializes in Sarbanes-Oxley compliance, Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance, enterprise vulnerability management and third-party vendor risk. Her team also manages enterprise-wide security awareness training for more than 1,600 end users.
• Her accomplishments include launching Casey’s Vendor Security Office (VSO). In addition to selecting and onboarding a tool to provide automated risk scoring on thousands of vendors, Seeley collaborated with partners in procurement and legal to register upwards of 500 vendors in the VSO database, greatly reducing the company’s risk exposure.
• Seeley is also responsible for growing and guiding a skilled team that has successfully reduced security vulnerabilities, while taking steps to better support and protect the company, its stores and its guests. Her peers consistently recognize her as an outstanding cybersecurity professional.
Cybersecurity Manager, Governance, Risk & Compliance
Casey’s General Stores Inc.
• Overseeing Circle K's Gulf Coast Business Unit fuel team, Serafim provides internal and external guidance for market and supply levels, while developing and administering retail pricing strategies.
• His achievements include creating the Mislift Report, which helped the unit save more than $60,000 through analysis of carriers’ mislifts by brand/terminal. He also worked with human resources to form a partnership with local universities, putting together a leadership accredited program for eligible employees that includes courses in entrepreneurship, organizational behavior and leadership.
• According to his nominator, a significant part of Serafim’s success is his ability to live by Circle K’s values, including “One Team” and “Do the Right Thing.” He believes it is essential for young team members starting their careers to know it’s not about age, but rather passion
and purpose, and makes a point of mentoring others.
Fuel & Car Wash Manager
Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc./Circle K
• Smith leads Parker’s IT operations, taking responsibility for everything from retail technology to corporate technology. This includes overseeing the Parker’s Rewards app, which must remain secure,
up to date and able to efficiently serve loyalty program members.
• He manages Parker’s self-checkout technology and has been instrumental in expanding its use in more Parker’s stores. Smith also spent months developing the round-up technology that allows Parker’s customers to round up their transactions for charity, making him integral to the program’s May 2022 launch.
• Known as a people-first leader, Smith ensures each of his team members understand the important supportive role that technology plays in Parker’s daily success. His professionalism, expert knowledge and leadership serve as a prime example of how to evolve with the times while keeping customers front of mind.
Senior Director of IT
• Whitefield led 7-Eleven’s cold beverage business before moving over to coffee and iced coffee. He supports the field staff and stores with product, promotions and initiatives that enable the retailer to offer customers innovative dispensing solutions, strategic pricing and promotions, and an on-trend product assortment.
• He led a companywide refresh of 7-Eleven’s fountain assortment, making it an industry leader in non-traditional fountain options. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Whitefield worked with suppliers to ensure stores remained stocked and that prices and promotions remained competitive to lessen the burden of inflation on customers.
• During his 16 years with 7-Eleven, Whitefield has led numerous key initiatives and been formally recognized for his performance multiple times. Past honors include Rookie of the Year and the company’s Special Achievement Award.
• Woods serves as the day-to-day point person who supports and advises some of the largest c-store brands on how to optimize and measure the performance of their loyalty programs. She has a hand in everything from program design and launch plans to operational engagement, guest segmentation, and campaign strategy.
• She is known for combining expertise and insight to help Paytronix clients understand how to leverage tools and technology in an ever-changing business landscape. She also formed an internal task force to increase adoption of existing features.
• During her less than three years with Paytronix, Woods has become a trusted guide in helping clients navigate new technology adoption, according to her nominator, who also emphasized that she is making a difference daily.
Data Insights Strategist
Paytronix Systems Inc.
• Woodward launched his career in the industry with McLane, starting out as an independent sales representative and steadily moving up to take on roles with increasing authority and responsibility. He now oversees McLane’s strategic customer initiatives to expand product offerings that help achieve sales goals.
• According to his nominator, Woodward is a hard worker who is highly regarded by McLane senior management, his customers and others in the industry; and he is viewed as someone with a bright future ahead
• As a leader, he prioritizes being receptive to the thoughts and ideas of others, while encouraging them to take chances; has the vision and determination to seek improvements; and demonstrates a strong commitment to training and developing teammates.
Senior Account Manager
McLane Co. Inc.
• Wroge oversees the sourcing, recruiting, hiring, relocation and onboarding of talent for Casey’s merchandising, marketing, legal, IT, finance, human resources and field service teams. She also oversees the corporate office intern programs, manages all software used for talent management initiatives, and consults and negotiates with vendors.
• Her recent achievements include hiring nearly double the number of roles this fiscal year compared to the previous one, launching IT and driver referral and sign-on bonus programs, and implementing the Casey’s Careers Instagram to share careers-focused content.
• According to her nominator, Wroge is a major reason people sign on with Casey’s. Her always-positive attitude, organizational skills and time management make the company a desirable place to work. She is clear, concise and not afraid to have tough conversations in a positive manner.
Manager, Talent Acquisition
Casey’s General Stores Inc.
• Zesiger was recently promoted to overseeing the candy category. He previously oversaw profit and loss for service categories and health and beauty care, negotiating vendor contracts, setting retail pricing and promotions, and serving as the decisionmaker regarding equipment and purchases.
• After starting out as a summer intern, he was hired in a full-time role while finishing his bachelor’s degree. Since then, he has moved up through several roles, taking on more responsibility and becoming a crucial employee for Maverik.
• His nominator noted that Zesiger is a trustworthy person who exemplifies Maverik’s leadership standards, treating others even better than they expect to be treated. He regularly steps in to help his teammates and other departments.
Senior Associate Category Manager
Maverik — Adventure’s First Stop
The largest class yet, and the first to include young leaders from retailer, distributor and supplier companies, was honored at an event in Charlotte.