The New England Convenience Store and Energy Marketers Association (NECSEMA) named the recipients of its 29th annual Store Operator of the Year Awards and will honor those operators and managers on Dec. 16, during a Zoom ceremony.
NECSEMA received more than 70 nominations from industry peers and partners in 2020. Each nominee is visited three times by different judges who rate each store on a variety of metrics in the categories of merchandising, interior/exterior conditions, customer service, foodservice and responsible retailing of age-restricted products.
“I was shocked and very happy upon hearing I won Manager of the Year,” said David Kennan, manager of a Cumberland Farms store and this year’s recipient of NECSEMA’s Manager of the Year award. “I feel fortunate to have an incredibly supportive team that goes above and beyond every day. The management at Cumberland Farms/EG has high standards but is extremely supportive in helping us achieve our goals.”
Marc Olabi, owner of Woodbridge Phillips 66 in Woodbridge, Connecticut, earned the top prize for Owner/Operator of the Year.
“I was so excited when I learned I had won,” Olabi said. “I work hard to stay well merchandised, keep the inside and outside looking beautiful and executing on what matters most to my customers. So far, they have been very happy, and it feels good to know that my industry thinks we’re doing a good job, too.”
Developed by the association’s associate board of directors, which is comprised of vendor companies and convenience retailers, the Store Operator of the Year program is intended to identify and recognize the industry’s best of the best. Each year NECSEMA receives dozens of nominations and issues 13 different awards for customer service, foodservice and merchandising in addition to the Owner/Operator and Manager of the Year awards.
“To be nominated for the Operator or Manager of the Year Award is a tremendous honor in itself, as candidate nominations are submitted from industry peers and associates,” said Lisa Lawinger-Brown, director of membership and marketing at NECSEMA. “Anyone who received a nomination should be extremely proud, but to actually win a category specific award or be highlighted as the top Manager or Operator for all of New England is truly a distinctive award and a recognition of consistent execution of retail excellence.”
“This has been an incredibly challenging year for everyone, including our members. Convenience stores have been essential lifelines in many communities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for basic food and household items and have kept thousands employed,” said Jonathan Shaer, NECSEMA’s executive director. “This year’s winners should take some additional pride in their achievement given the incredibly difficult circumstances that the industry has faced.”