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.”

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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.


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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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Inteplast Group manufactures innovative reusable bags and mailer bags through its Integrated Bagging System division to reduce retailers’ environmental footprint.

By Stephanie Crets

Inteplast Group is a completely integrated company that strives to offer products with quality, people and resources in mind. Inteplast’s three divisions comprise production of items that are vital to a host of industries.

Its earliest established division, Integrated Bagging System (IBS), produces plastic bags and products including can liners, foodservice bags, gloves and supplies, retail and grocery bags and janitorial and industrial supplies. The AmTopp division produces stretch films, biaxially oriented polypropylene (BOPP), plus plastic concentrates and compounds. The World-Pak division manufactures corrugated plastic sheets, PVC boards, and cross-laminated film and bags.

Founded in 1991, the company is the largest manufacturer of integrated plastics in North America. Many of Inteplast’s products are manufactured from raw material to finished product on a 575-acre site in Lolita, Texas – the biggest plastics plant in the state. “We do it from the ground up to the finished product,” says Tony Myers, vice president and general manager for the company’s grocery and retail unit. “And each business unit focuses on a market segment so we can penetrate the market deeper.”


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Knecht’s Auto Parts believes in empowering its managers to make decisions, which encourages employee retention and benefits customers.

By Jim Harris

Knecht’s Auto Parts has been a household name for car enthusiasts and motorists throughout Oregon for nearly 70 years. “We’d had a path beaten to our stores for decades,” says Kevin Sabbato, president of the Springfield, Ore.-based retailer. “We’re the neighborhood auto parts store that’s been there for decades; for our customers, we’re the place they remember because they went there with their dad. That familiarity is a big positive.”

Founded in 1947, the company today operates 21 locations in Oregon. Knecht Auto Parts’ longevity has not only earned it loyalty from its customers, but also many of its employees. “We are still family owned and operated, and that carries some weight,” Sabbato says. “Several of our management-level employees have been here a long time – we have someone on our counter who’s been here for 37 years, and 5 who’s been here for 15-20 years.”

Sabbato represents the third generation of family ownership in the company, as he is the son-in-law of Wally Knecht, the son of company founder Nate Knecht. He credits the company’s retention of longtime employees to its family based culture. “We’re just super-straight with people and treat them fairly,” he says. “We expect a lot out of them, and reciprocate their loyalty – when something comes up, we take care of our staff with time off or other support.”

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LiptonMart’s history with the communities it serves help differentiate it from its competitors.

By Jim Harris

The Lipton family’s close connections to the communities it serves in western Massachusetts and southwestern Vermont have made its convenience stores and other businesses go-to destinations.

“We’re a fourth-generation business with strong ties to the area,” says Mike Lipton, vice president of Pittsfield, Mass.-based LiptonMart, the family’s convenience store chain. “We also give a lot back to the community and people know us for that, which gives us an advantage over our big-box competitors.”

Lipton Energy was founded in 1910 by Mike Lipton’s great-grandfather Samuel Lipton as an iron works and coal supply company. During the 1940s, the company started distributing home heating oil, and purchased gas stations throughout the 1950s and 1960s. LiptonMart opened in the early 1980s when Lipton Energy began converting several of its gas stations into convenience stores.

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