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Placing elements such as customers, employees, partners and communities at the top have helped Petroleum Marketing Group to grow.

By Eric Slack

Every company claims to put customers and employees first, but Petroleum Marketing Group (PMG) truly walks the walk. The company is constantly investing in its employees and giving back to its communities, and it believes that its success depends on a team approach to business. 

“We always use ‘we’ and not ‘I’ when it comes to the work and business within the company,” President and CEO Hossein Ejtemai says. “It takes all of us to make this work and be a success.”

Carmel Dream

KenJo Markets is luring customers with an interactive app and made-the-same-day foods.

By Tim O’Connor

A few years ago, gas station and convenience store retailer KenJo Markets realized it needed to improve its customer loyalty card program to keep pace with competition. Other convenience stores had rewards programs, but KenJo wanted something more interactive and fun for its customers. It found that in Verge Retail, a marketing platform company that built a phone app that acted as an extension of KenJo’s existing reward’s program.

The app, which launched in February, gives KenJo a way to push coupons to customers through games and tie-in promotions with products such as Red Bull energy drinks. Vice President of Operations Jimmy McBrayer says the company is happy with the number of downloads after about six months and is looking for new ways to drive usage. “While we’re not fully using all of its capabilities right now, we do have it,” McBrayer says. “We’re tinkering with it, playing with it and using it to some degree.”

The app is just one of the ways KenJo Markets sets itself apart from other convenience stores. The company also prides itself on its service standards, array of products, fresh sandwiches and the customer experience. The goal is to get 1 percent better every day, McBrayer says. “The amount of retailers in our area compared to other places is extraordinary,” he adds. “You always have to look for that thing that’s going to separate you from the other competitors on the corner.”

KenJo began in 1977 as the retail arm of petroleum supplier Downey Oil. Today, the company has 37 stores in eastern Tennessee under the Marathon, Shell, Exxon and Mobil brands. Downey Oil also operates other filling stations with the Citgo banner.

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As a third-generation family company, KLN Family Brands manufactures and supplies pet food, confections and candy to retailers across the United States.

By Stephanie Crets

Now in its third-generation of family ownership, KLN Family Brands is upholding its 50-plus year tradition of producing high-quality products in both the pet food industry, as well as the candy and confections arena.  KLN Family Brands is made up of two distinct companies:  Tuffy’s Pet Foods and Kenny’s Candy & Confections.

Tuffy’s was established in 1964. Throughout the years and today, the company manufactures dry, semi moist dog and cat foods. The innovative products it produces with clean labels can be found in its premium brands including NutriSource, Pure Vita and Natural Planet. In these brands, customers can find grain-free, natural and unique ingredients and premium protein sources such as bison, duck and venison. In addition, it manufactures private label dog food for a handful of prominent companies in the pet food industry.   

Recently, Tuffy’s invested $75 million on a new state-of-the-art extrusion facility. “We were at a place until this past year where we were producing high-quality foods in an aged facility,” President Charlie Nelson explains. “We needed to ask ourselves, ‘Are we going to continue being a serious player in this industry or not?’ If we are in, we need to be the safest, highest-quality facility in the country. That is what we expect from ourselves today and going forward.”

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McKenzie Oil’s stores create a ‘friendly, down-home environment’ for their customers.

By Alan Dorich

McKenzie Oil may be a modestly sized company, but that does not prevent it from providing ideal retail experiences for customers, Vice President Martha McKenzie says. “We attribute our company’s success to giving excellent customer service, competitive pricing and having products in our stores that customers want,” she declares.

Eufaula, Ala.-based McKenzie Oil operates a chain of convenience stores in Alabama and Florida. McKenzie’s father-in-law, Robert McKenzie, started the company in 1950 as a Gulf Oil distributor. “They had tires, gasoline and oil lubricants,” she describes, adding that her husband, Dan McKenzie, took over the business in 1975.

But at the time, the industry was changing. Although many companies still delivered gasoline to farmers with trucks, “We knew that would not be feasible,” Martha McKenzie recalls. “Dan decided to change the business and basically start working on convenience stores.”

CoGos Store Front

CoGo’s continues to distinguish itself from other convenience store chains and its locations have become staples of their communities.

By Alan Dorich

After more than 50 years, CoGo’s Co. continues to distinguish itself from other convenience store chains with its “corner store-type product mix, including some of the core grocery store items,” Chief Financial Officer Wayne Unks says.

These include items such as cereal, soups, condiments, bread, milk and pet foods, all with prices below those found at traditional convenience store retailers. “That differentiates us,” he says.

Based in Pittsburgh, CoGo’s has locations in Maryland and western Pennsylvania. The company’s history goes back to the 1870s when William Colteryahn, a native of Hamburg, Germany, came to Pittsburgh with his family.

In 1893, he founded Colteryahn Dairy, the oldest existing dairy in Pittsburgh. At the time, milk was distributed in large containers on wagons and customers came to the wagon with kettles and pans to purchase it.

In 1917, Colteryahn’s son, Carl, moved the dairy to its current location in Carrick, Pa. In the years that followed, home delivery became the main business activity, with milk trucks replacing horses and wagons. The dairy grew to sell its fresh milk to retailers.


08 Energy North Tewksbury ASchirmer

Energy North Group is ready to expand its reach beyond New England.

By Alan Dorich

All employees have a voice in the decisions at Energy North Group (ENG), Executive Vice President Pat O’Connell says. “Whether it’s an associate that is out at the stores or somebody in the corporate office, we ask for everyone’s opinion,” he says. “It’s important that we listen.”

That philosophy has been constant for the firm as it has grown over the past 35 years. Based in Tewksbury, Mass., ENG specializes in the wholesale distribution of gasoline, oil and propane as well as operates multiple retail locations.

The company began operations in 1981 as a sub-jobber with a modest staff. In 1997, it started its retail division and began acquiring other distributor-based companies. “That put us in a position of growth and tripled our revenue stream,” O’Connell notes.

ENG also took a major step when it became a Mobil Brand Fee Agreement (BFA) distributor. “That allowed us to supply the other Mobil distributors as sub-jobbers throughout the New England marketplace,” O’Connell recalls.


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