Coen OilCoen is far from finished in making its business better. By Alan Dorich

Coen Oil Company thrives as a family owned business in its home state of Pennsylvania. “We were born here and raised here in our market,” Chairman Charles C. McIlvaine declares, noting that the Coen name has consumer recognition locally. “We have a very long history of serving our customers since 1923, and have a track record of community involvement.”

Based in Washington, Pa., Coen operates convenience stores, distributes petroleum and provides energy field services. Coen began in 1923 with World War I war bonds funding two trucks that hauled fuel for customers. Later, McIlvaine’s grandfather Charles Coen grew the company to be one of the largest jobberships East of the Mississippi with over 400 dealer locations.

“The original direct operation store was located across the street from our old headquarters and provided a daily reminder of our roots,” McIlvaine explains. McIlvaine and his brother, Andy, who is the company’s president, bought Coen in 2000 from various family members. Today, it has multiple businesses, including Coen Energy, one of the largest fuel distribution and energy services companies in the Pittsburgh area; Coen Tire, a retail tire platform; and Coen Transport, a commercial fuel hauler.

Boston ProperBoston Proper believes the future of retail success lies in fostering authentic relationships not only with customers, but with each other. By Bianca Herron

While both the times and technology have evolved over the years, Boston Proper has always been able to adapt while staying true to their mantra: “We’re not from Boston and we’re definitely not proper, but we are unexpected and have been for 25 years.”

According to President and CMO, Sheryl Clark, the brand’s mission is to bring the runway to real women with fearlessly feminine collections designed and curated to be noticed. The Boca, Raton, Fla.-based company’s target demographic is women between the ages of 35-65, but they don’t obsess over age.

“We cater to an attitude,” Clark says. “While we may have an age demographic, it’s more of an internal guardrail so we stay focused and curate appropriately. Our goal is for women to know when they choose Boston Proper they can feel confident and wear it like no one else.”

Southwest GeorgiaSouthwest Georgia Oil will bring its convenience stores under one banner with the Sunstop brand. By Tim O’Connor

For the bulk of Southwest Georgia Oil’s 56-year history, it was a small collection of convenience stores and gas stations. At the beginning of 2015, the company had only 25 stores, mostly in Georgia. That began to change that year when the company found an opportunity for rapid expansion.

“About two years ago, we tripled our company overnight,” Brand Manager Spencer Thomas says. “We acquired the S&S brand out of Lake City, Fla., and acquired 44 stores.”

S&S was a perfect fit for Southwest Georgia Oil’s culture. The group of convenience store gas stations spurned offers from larger brands to seek a smaller buyer that could be more hands-on with its customers and employees. It found that ideal buyer in Southwest Georgia Oil.

Shoe MillShoe Mill aims to expand its footprint by continuing to improve the high-quality level of customer service for which it is known. By Bianca Herron

Shoe Mill is an independent, family-owned fine footwear retail company that owns and operates eight stores in the Pacific Northwest. For 39 years, the Portland, Ore.-based company has prided itself on offering customers a compelling merchandise mix and an unmatched level of caring customer service.

Today, Ed Habre, president and CEO of Shoe Mill, oversees the company with his sister Tamara St. Cyr, who serves as vice president of finance. Habre’s parents founded the company in 1978 and his four sons – Jared, Josh, Joel and Jordan Habre, along with their cousin Shane St. Cyr – are also now integral to the present and future success of the company.

“It’s a pleasure to come to work every day and not only have the opportunity to hang out with my sons, but also to watch them grow and mature in the business,” Ed Habre says. He adds that he’s most proud that his sons have earned their respective roles by merit and not because they carry the family name.

PusaterisPusateri’s open market-style stores create an indulgent shopping experience for customers. By Tim O’Connor

When a produce cooler caught fire and burned down the flagship store of upscale grocer Pusateri’s Fine Foods in 2015, it would have been easy for the Toronto-based company to scale back its plans to change how people shop for food. Instead, Pusateri’s took it as an opportunity to rebuild the store with a new design that further pushed its methods for turning grocery shopping into an exciting experience.

The shell and footprint of the rebuilt store remained the same, but Pusateri’s added demonstration kitchens and spaces for pop-up programs that can be rotated. The second floor, which was previously administrative space, was converted into a flower shop and will also eventually house a restaurant partner. When it reopened near the end of 2016, the flagship Pusateri’s went from a place where customers could buy food to one where they could fully experience it.

“We designed that store to truly have the best of the world,” says Angus McOuat, vice president of merchandising and marketing.

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