August is typically one of my favorite issues of the year because it gives us here at Convenience Store Decisions an opportunity to give something back to the industry for its tremendous support throughout the year. In August we announce our annual Convenience Store Chain of the Year, and this year we are pleased to report that Thorntons Inc. will be the 2011 recipient of this prestigious award.
Thorntons was chosen by our Chain of the Year nominating committee for a variety of reasons—all benchmarks when selecting the Chain of the Year winner. In this challenging economic environment that has persisted throughout 2011 the company continues to open new-to-industry stores at an impressive clip, while remodeling existing locations. It has dramatically reduced turnover, upped its investment in foodservice and car washes and has still made it a priority to generously support the local communities it serves, both physically and financially.
I had a wonderful opportunity last November to spend a week interacting with dozens of employees at Thorntons’ annual meeting in Louisville, Ky. From President and CEO Matt Thornton down to third-shift clerks, the company exudes confidence and clearly demonstrates a healthy respect for each other and the task at hand—to provide outstanding service. This isn’t just some mission statement hanging on a plaque at corporate headquarters in Louisville. It’s a culture that permeates the entire organization and is as contagious as the radiant smile on a customer service clerk on a warm Kentucky morning.
Thorntons believes in being open and honest with its team members and setting clear, direct goals. As part of its core values management reinforces respect for each other and that every team member counts. Everyone has a voice in the company and the result is that team members are eager to step up and provide ideas to ensure exceptional service to its customers.
Low turnover is a welcomed byproduct of this commitment to employees. As respect for employees has grown so has employee retention. At its worst five years ago Thorntons suffered from a turnover rate of 157% for front counter employees. Today, it comes in at 81%. For management positions the turnover rate is an even more impressive 15%, down from 70% in 2006.
CSD will honor Thorntons and its accomplishments at the NACS Show in Chicago. As I mentioned, we take great pride in giving back to the convenience store chains we cover throughout the year and hope you can join us at the highly-regarded Café Spiaggia on Oct. 2. More importantly, since this is an award for retailers voted on by retailers, please join me in congratulating the team at Thorntons for a job well done.
About the Chain of the Year Award:
CSD‘s Chain of the Year award annually honors a convenience store or petroleum chain that has established itself as a superior retailer and innovator in its markets of operation. CSD’s first Chain of the Year award was given to Wawa Inc. in 1990. Thorntons follows 2010 Chain of the Year winner Rutter’s Farm Stores.
Past Chain of the Year Winners:
• 1990 – Wawa Inc.
• 1991 – SuperAmerica
• 1992 – QuikTrip Corp.
• 1993 – Casey’s General Stores Inc.
• 1994 – Sheetz Inc.
• 1995 – Diamond Shamrock Corp.
• 1996 – Mapco Express
• 1997 – Speedway Inc.
• 1998 – Krause Gentle Corp.
• 1999 – Dairy Mart Inc.
• 2000 – Amerada Hess Corp.
• 2001 – Huck’s Food & Fuel
• 2002 – Petro-Canada
• 2003 – Exxon Mobil Corp.
• 2004 – Kwik Trip Inc.
• 2005 – 7-Eleven Inc.
• 2006 – Valero Inc.
• 2007 – Alimentation Couche-Tard
• 2008 – Chevron Inc.
• 2009 – Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes
• 2010 – Rutter’s Farm Stores