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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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.

07 Mar ValSign

Mar-Val Food Stores stays innovative and offers its customers the highest-quality products to be the go-to grocery store in its communities.

By Janice Hoppe

Mar-Val Food Stores isn’t considered the local grocery store for nine small towns of California’s Central Valley because of proximity, but because of the connection it has developed with its customers that make them proud to call the store their own. “The Mar-Val Food Stores staff takes pride in bringing you the best in product selection, competitive pricing and customer satisfaction,” the company says. “We work hard to earn the privilege of being your ‘super market.’”

The Lodi, Calif.-based company was named after Mardee and Val Kidd, who in 1952 decided to open a small food store. Mar-Val Food Stores was born and grew over the years to four stores and 180 employees. Under the leadership of the family’s second generation, the company expanded, adding five more stores under three different banners and more than doubling its workforce.

Today, Mar-Val Food Stores operates a chain of eight grocery stores and one convenience store in Clements, Escalon, Georgetown, Groveland, Prather, Valley Springs, Nice, Pleasanton and Colfax, Calif. “Many changes over the years were made to allow us to arrive at the point we are today,” the company says. “We are truly excited about our company and its growth. We are dedicated to delivering a variety of services to the community in the manner that reflects its way of life.”

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Montreal-based CCM Hockey is positioned as one of the largest hockey equipment manufacturers in the world.

By Stephanie Crets

CCM Hockey is a company and a brand completely dedicated to hockey. Not only is it one of the largest hockey equipment manufacturers in the world, but all the employees – no matter what their position in the company – live and breathe hockey every day. “Everyone plays or just enjoys being a fan of hockey,” President Philippe Dube says. “I started a bit too late in my life to be a good hockey player, but I play in a league in Montreal every Wednesday night. I’m not going to be pro anytime soon.”

Up until five years ago, the company’s sales were dominated by the Reebok brand. But, according to Dube, it’s now almost 100 percent CCM. CCM was founded in 1899 and originally known as Canada Cycle & Motor Company. But the market for bicycles in Canada began to rapidly decline in 1905 thanks to market saturation and seasonal issues. At the same time, ice hockey was growing rapidly in popularity. CCM decided to dedicate its business to the sport, launching CCM Automobile Skate and dominating the hockey skate business for 30 years.

Since the split from the Reebok brand, Dube has tripled CCM’s profits in three-and-a-half years. Now, the company is investing in a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) system to link all CCM businesses globally. Because everyone has different product codes, it won’t go live until January 2017 to ensure complete success. The new system will generate efficiency gains, consolidate procurements and allow for easier vendor management. 

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