Search



Click here to register
your card
or to check
your account activity



Click here for Easy
step by step
instructions
on how to Opt-in.


Retail Council Talks


The Exchange
 spoke with Retailer representatives of the Retail Council to get their views on the events of Fall 2015, and their expectations heading into the New Year. Rick Barrie shared the news that the Retail Council will soon have a new name – the Pioneer Retail Relations Committee – as it gets down to work in the New Year.


Rick Barrie
, Hanover
Rick was a member of the original Retail Council, and has assumed a leadership role on the new Retail Council that was created after the Parkland acquisition.

He has been a Pioneer retailer for 12 years, joining the company as a manager when the Hanover site was opened November 12, 2003 before moving to Harriston for two years. He returned to Hanover as the Retailer in 2005.

What do you see as the purpose of the Retail Council?
To me our main purpose as a council is to close the communications gap between our business partners in senior management and the front-line Retailers. I think this will help each side better understand the views of the other, which can only lead to better decision making in the long run.

I have been working with Brian Kitchen, Tory Richter and Jeff French in developing a terms of reference and a new working name for the council. We have completed that process and will present our recommendations to the full committee at our next meeting in February. Everyone is in agreement that we will be called the Pioneer Retail Relations Committee (RRC) going forward. I am very excited and pleased at the direction everything is moving – we are starting to see that as Retailers we can make a difference.

What changes have you made in your business since the Fuelling Growth event?
For now it’s been pretty much business as usual, working hard to gain and maintain customers. We have growth opportunity in our market right now because the Canadian Tire gas bar has been closed while undergoing renovations.

We had staff meetings ahead of time to get everyone on our team geared up to take advantage of the opportunity. My goal is to retain at least 10 percent of the former Canadian Tire customer base. We’re working hard to get Bonus Bucks cards into customer hands so they can see the benefits of staying with Pioneer.

Have you had feedback from Retailers in your area on the event?
The feedback I’m hearing is positive, with some reservation. Everyone seems to like what they are hearing, and now it’s a matter of seeing how that plays out in their own business. I can say that the early apprehension is dissipating as everyone see the changes coming into play. There is a positive feel that we are being heard.

Like me, I think everyone is feeling positive about having Ian White and Peter Kilty at the helm of the business. They are driving things in a very positive direction, and have a great team of managers that seem to be on the same page.

What are you most excited about going forward?
For me, it’s nice to have a business partner again. It is feeling more like the old Murray Hogarth days, where as Retailers we were considered partners, not just employees. Now it feels like we are going to work together for the common good and growth of company as a whole, and our own businesses.

I’m looking forward to working with a team that has respect and appreciation for each other. That had dissipated over the past couple of years for obvious reasons. There were a lot of rumours with no answers, and many of us no longer felt like partners in the business. I now see an opportunity of going forward to a time of positive growth with dignity and respect. I believe there are going to be career growth opportunities, financial opportunities for our businesses and better communications. Everything takes time, but I am feeling much more confident about the future today.

How do you envision your business changing over the next two years?
I see a lot of growth, with an opportunity to earn more under the new business agreement. In the past it seemed that sometimes we were not rewarded or recognized for business growth, and I think that is changing.

I also see an opportunity for bringing new products to our customers. I think as Retailers were will have more input into product ideas. At the end of the day, it has to be a win-win partnership. The more I’m encouraged to grow my business, the more Pioneer will grow. And by rewarding Retailers for making growth happen, everyone benefits.  

 


Steve Jakubickas
Hamilton
Steve joined Pioneer as a part-time attendant at the Upper James, Hamilton location where he later became assistant manager. He was one of the earliest to become a Pioneer Commission Agent and after a short time in Dundas took over the Rymal Road location in Hamilton where he opened the first full-format Snack Express store. Steve returned to Upper James in 1999 where he remains today. He has been a member of the Retail Council since its inception.

What do you see as the purpose of the Retail Council?

Our main task, I believe, is trying to get feedback from the field as far as things that might be beneficial to our individual businesses as well as the overall business. I think there are times Retailers will talk to one of us where they might not be comfortable talking to their TM. It’s just another way of opening up communications. It’s definitely not intended to be a place to gripe – it’s to get feedback on what’s working and what’s not working.   

What changes have you made in your business since the Fuelling Growth event?
I’d say I came back with more drive with staff, looking at increasing sales. I’ve been focused on getting staff to execute when it comes upselling. Our customers need to know what’s available, and if you don’t let them know they’re not going to buy. The other change would be a higher awareness about safety. Parkland has a strong focus on safety, and I’m working harder at creating a safe working atmosphere. We are also being even more vigilant about tobacco compliance, ensuring our staff understand what they must do each and every time.

Have you had feedback from retailers in your area on the event?
What I’m hearing is that everyone is feeling more positive, but are waiting to see the ‘ecos’ (economics) of the new business agreements that we will have soon. The proof will be in the pudding. I think some people are still thinking about the old Pioneer. Once they see the changes I know they will open up more.  

What are you most excited about going forward?

The opportunity for growth. I am looking forward to a business arrangement that allows us to share in the growth of sales. In the past we haven’t been rewarded for growing sales, so you can lose motivation.

How do you envision your business changing over the next two years?
The future is sounding very positive. I feel we will have more support in driving non-fuel sales, which can only make the business more profitable. I’m looking forward to offering new and innovative products that will also help drive sales.


Mark Paquette,
 Chelmsford

Mark is one of the longest standing Pioneer Retailers in the North with close to 13 years’ experience at this current site. Mark has been a member of the Retail Council since its inception. 

What do you see as the purpose of the Retail Council?
We’re the liaison between front-line agents and upper management. It’s our duty to go out and develop a rapport with the agents in our territory, and put together list of common impediments to our business which we can then bring forward to management. If Agents have site specific issues, that is something that should be handled by their TM.  For sure every station is different, but there are common issues and those are the ones we want to address to help grow our businesses.

What changes have you made in your business since the Fuelling Growth event?
There’s no question we’re totally excited about our new business model. Change is constant in our business to keep up with changes in the market. It’s a little early for us to react to the new business model because it won’t be adapted until (early 2016). But we are definitely looking forward to doing all that we can to move the business forward.

Have you had feedback from Retailers in your area on the event?
Yes, the Retailers up here are very excited. During the transition we have been in a limbo for the past couple of years. But they feel with the new mandate brought forward (at the event) we have something to get excited about. Many of the Agents in this area are fairly new, so they are feeling like they will have support going forward to grow their businesses. They are chomping at the bit to get going.

What are you most excited about going forward?
At the fact we will now be growing our business and sharing in that growth as per the new business model that was presented to us. The new mandate is pretty clear – Ian White wants to win, and personally I think he has drafted the ultimate fantasy team that is going to get us where we want to be.

How do you envision your business changing over the next two years?
I see us adopting some of the fundamentals that we were getting away from in recent years. These are fundamentals that got us to where we are, and made us the envy of our competitors. I think the combination of focusing on fundamentals, and bringing in new and innovative programs, will see us continue to win in this market and be the market leaders once again. It’s a process, and I see us doing some remarkable things in the new year.  


Fred Brown
, Brantford
Fred, who just celebrated his 40th anniversary with Pioneer, joined the company in 1975 as a part-time service attendant. He was one of the first employees to become a Pioneer Commission Agent, taking over the Henry Road site in Brantford in 1987. Fred has been a member of the Retail Council since its inception.

What do you see as the purpose of the Retail Council?
Everyone wants to have a say in the business, and this council provides a way for all Retailers to have input. As a member of the Council, I get calls all the time from Retailers. If I don’t have the answer, I can bring questions and concerns up at our meetings, and we can address issues before they get blown out of proportion.

The majority of us on the council are known as outspoken, and that’s the kind of people you want there. We are the eyes and ears of the front line people. We will ask the tough questions when they need to be asked.

I am proud to serve on the council with a group of guys who actually care. We volunteer our time because we all take pride in our business and want to make a difference

What changes have you made since Fuelling Growth?
I’ve taken a different perspective. For the past couple of years it seemed like no one was steering the ship. Now we have Ian (White) at the top with positive ideas, and an experienced guy like Brian Kitchen rising to second in command. It makes you feel positive about the future, and that comes through in the business every day. I’m sure there will be growing pains, but for me the pride in what we are doing is coming back.

Have you had feedback from Retailers in your area on the Event?
I get the sense that people are feeling more at ease, that Parkland wants good things for the Pioneer business. We’re still in uncharted waters so there is some hesitation, but once everything in the new business plan becomes clear in the new year I expect to hear mostly positive things. There is a lot of positive feedback around the Refresh program. Everyone is saying how much better their station looks. And that tells us that Parkland is showing pride in our network. Stations had been falling apart over the past couple of years, and Parkland comes out right way with the $5 million Refresh program, a ton of money, it’s a very positive thing.

After all, when you go into a new station are you going to wear an old shirt? It starts to impact every area of the business.

What are you most excited about going forward?
It feels more like a partnership now, and that’s the first time I’ve felt that in a long time. Ian White looked us straight in the face and said, ‘you are partners with us, we’re not your bosses’. That gets me excited about my business, and about being part of Pioneer. I’m not just Fred at site #21, I’m a partner with Pioneer.

It’s like we were asleep for the last two years and now we’re awake. It’s going to be fun, we’ve finally got some scenery.   

How do you envision your business changing over the next two years?
I believe we now have the right leadership, and that we can do nothing but grow. We’ve been stale for too long. Now I’ll be looking for innovation, and giving our customers what they want. I like the idea that we can have flex space to tailor our merchandising to our individual market, while at the same time supporting and executing network-wide programs.  It’s going to be more important than ever to train our front-line service people to understand the needs of our customers. They need to give customers their full attention, to help them get what they want and get out quickly. For instance, if a customer comes in asking for a bag of ice, you don’t just say, ‘it’s over there’. They are coming in to spend their money, and we need to treat them as valued guests. It’s about the pride, would I want my mom or dad being treated like that?  


Tanveer Muneer
, Minden
Tanveer has been working in the business almost 15 years, starting out as a part-time gas attendant in high school. He got his first site in Whitby at the age of 20, before moving on to Stouffville and now Minden. He has been a member of the Retail Council since its inception.

What do you see as the purpose of the Retail Council?
I think the purpose is to help grow our business as a team, having some say on how we can help improve our business at the same time. It’s a way to have our voice heard as Retailers. It’s definitely a positive.

What changes have you made in your business since the Fuelling Growth event?

The event has given me more encouragement to grow my business. The future seems a lot brighter with Parkland. Since coming back from the event, I have been pushing even harder to grow my sales. That means making sure our inventory is up to date, we are working the planogram and always fully stocked. We are a seasonal site, we do 60 percent of our business in the summer so we really need to be on top of things.  We are the only 24-hour site in a two-hour radius.

Have you had feedback from retailers in your area on the event?

A lot of the Retailers seem very positive, and very enthusiastic. They are saying the new budgets, the way they have been outlined at the event, seem much better than what we have currently. People were surprised – there are a lot of new retailers in my territory who aren’t as familiar with the old structure. But they are happy that Parkland is saying that if we reach and go above our targets, we can make more money. It seems very fair.

What are you most excited about going forward?

I am excited about everything – the growth opportunities, the years of service bonuses. That’s something we didn’t have before, so it’s all very positive. As a senior Retailer, I am especially pleased that Parkland is giving more money based on your experience. It shows they appreciate your years of service, and value the experience you can bring to the business. I have been doing this almost 15 years, I’ve learned a lot and have seen a lot of changes. I see a lot of positive coming out of Parkland.

How do you envision your business changing over the next two years? 
I see a lot of changes coming, but right now Parkland is investing $5 million in the Refresh program. My site being one of those being Refresh, I’m pleased to have a more futuristic look and more product offerings that before.  In the end it can only grow our business. It looks like a pretty bright future in the next couple of years. I’m up for the challenge, and looking forward to it. 


Baljit Kadian
, Gananoque 
Baljit has been with Pioneer for the last seven years, coming to the company from Petro Canada. He is a new member of the Retail Council, and says he is pleased to have the opportunity to bring the Retailer voice to senior management.

What do you see as the purpose of the Retail Council?
I think the Retail Council provides a voice for all Retailers. It allows us to bring any operational challenges we face to senior management. I think it is an important door to continuing communications between senior management and Retailers.

What changes have you made in your business since the Fuelling Growth event?
As soon as I got back to my site I shared all of the information from the event with my staff. Everyone is feeling excited and motivated about hitting sales growth targets, getting more customers and keeping all of our customers happy. 

Have you had feedback from retailers in your area on the event?

Yes, and like me everyone is excited about the new opportunities. Everyone tells me they can’t wait to grow their business with Parkland. 

What are you most excited about going forward?

I’m most excited about the new business model, and I’m ready to take on new challenges. I’m also very excited about the Refresh program. We will be doing this site next week and I know the changes will bring more traffic to my store.  

The new business model means we now have a chance to increase our store sales without the company taking incentives back –  the more you sell the more you make. We now have good people behind us, so we can drive sales, profits and get more happy customers.

How do you envision your business changing over the next two years?

I believe we will increase our base of loyal customers, which will increase our gas and store sales volumes. I also see opportunities with new products, like the coffee program we are introducing with Refresh. In my market, there is only coffee shop and now we can offer customers an alternative with a great product at a great price.   


Billy Hraiche
, Burlington
He has been a member of the Retail Council since its inception.

Billy left his job as an assistant parts manager with GM to join Pioneer at a Mississauga location in 2003. He was promoted to Retailer at his own site in 2006 and took over the Verve location at Mainway and Appleby in Burlington two years ago. 

What do you see as the purpose of the Retail Council

It’s a great idea, you have a lot of Retailers out there with lots of questions. Every site is unique and has different problems. As members of the Retail Council, we can relate what we are hearing in the field to upper management. I do get a lot of calls from Retailers in my area. I bring their questions forward to the council, and follow up with them later. It’s great having that open door to communications both ways.

What changes have you made in your business since the Fuelling Growth event?

I came away from the event feeling much more motivated to push sales. And I have seen business pick up here dramatically – gas volumes are up, stores sales are up, tobacco sales are up. It’s about attitude. This is a very competitive market, and we are out there checking prices every hour, and ensuring that we are at the top of our game. We are seeing a lot of new customers come through the door and we’re doing our best to make sure we keep them.

Have you had feedback from Retailers in your area on the event?

Yes, and people in the field are feeling the same way as I am. Before, the business model limited what you could earn. No matter how much you sold before, you were limited, you couldn’t go over that. With Parkland, people are feeling the motivation of the more we push, the more we sell, the more we make. Retailers I speak with are encouraged by that.

What are you most excited about going forward?

I see things getting better. Parkland is open-minded and respectful toward Pioneer Retailers. I know that if I push sales, I’m going to be rewarded.

How do you envision your business changing over the next two years?

I see volumes and sales continuing to grow, and with Parkland I believe we can be the best we can be. There is a mutual respect there – they seem to understand that Retailers are the front-line guys who are the key to the puzzle. It’s an exciting time, and I think we are in a great position to be the leader in our market.