Speaker Spotlight

MAY 2-3 | EMBASSY SUITES DOWNTOWN TAMPA

Confirmed Speakers

Shawn Barnes
Shawn Barnes
Murphy USA
Director of Food Service
Fireside Chat with Shawn Barnes

Shawn is an industry veteran with close to 20 years of progressive leadership experience including 10 years in the food and beverage space. He joined Murphy USA in 2020 and with the acquisition of QuickChek Shawn is now responsible for food and beverage category management and strategy development across both brands. Shawn leads an amazing team of food service professionals who work tirelessly to provide relevant, high quality and convenient food and beverage products at a great value to Murphy USA and QuickChek customers. Prior to Murphy USA, he was the Director of New Restaurant Opening Planning at Raising Cane’s and before that he spent 15 years at 7-Eleven with a variety of roles in operations, training, category management and program implementation.

Jim Bressi
Jim Bressi
Spinx Company Convenience Stores
Vice President of Food Service
Evolution and Future of C-store Foodservice

Currently the Vice President of Food Service for the Spinx Company in Greenville SC. Bressi’s career in food service has spanned more than three decades. A classically trained chef having graduated from Johnson and Wales University, Bressi has worked in the hotel industry, owned his own fine dining restaurant, taught culinary arts at New England Culinary Institute and Stratford University, and worked in Food Research and Development for elite food companies over the last twenty years. Known among his contemporaries as an innovator and the architect of numerous national food programs, Bressi’s passion for the food industry is truly an inspiration.

Ed Burcher
Ed Burcher
The BATeam
Partner
Building Engagement -- from Innovation to Communication

Ed is an industry veteran with over 40 years of experience providing unique perspectives in creating and delivering world-class food and retail offerings. Ed takes a comprehensive approach which combines foodservice, marketing and operations to improve existing offers and allows for the launch of new ones as well. Select, notable experiences include working for industry greats like Wawa, Petro-Canada\Neighbours and FriendShip Kitchen.

Ed began consulting 10 years ago and has helped many companies grow their sales and profits by reimagining their offer contributing to awards and recognition in leading industry publications. But most importantly, his solutions-oriented leadership and collaborative approach with clients has resulted in tangible improvements in sales, profits and the Guest experience.

J David Karam
J David Karam
Sbarro
Chief Executive Officer
Finding Your Secret Sauce: Harnessing innovation and future forward strategies to create a competitive advantage

"J. David Karam is the Chief Executive Officer of Sbarro, the leading QSR chain serving the impulse pizza occasion. Mr. Karam joined Sbarro when he was appointed Chairman of
the Board in January of 2012 and assumed the additional duties of CEO in March of 2013.

Before joining Sbarro, Mr. Karam was the President of Wendy’s International from 2008 to 2011. During his tenure at Wendy’s, Karam led a successful turnaround, which
included significant improvements in product quality, operational execution and brand profitability. Under his leadership, Wendy’s rose to become the second largest QSR
Hamburger chain in the U.S., surpassing Burger King for the first time in the company’s 42-year history. In 2011, Karam was inducted into Wendy’s Hall of Fame.

Prior to joining Wendy’s in 2008, Mr. Karam was president of Cedar Enterprises, one of the largest franchisees in the Wendy’s system. While President of Cedar Enterprises,
the company was awarded the R. David Thomas Founders Award, the Diamond Award for National Marketer of the Year and numerous other recognitions. He joined Cedar
Enterprises in 1986 as Vice President of Finance before being promoted to President in 1989. Mr. Karam previously served as senior auditor for Touche & Ross from 1982 to
1986.

Karam is a CPA and holds a B.S. in Accounting from The Ohio State University and is a graduate of the Owner President Management program at the Harvard University
Graduate School of Business Administration. He serves on the Board of Directors for Henny Penny Corporation, the Pontifical College Josephinum and ALSAC, the fundraising
arm of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital."

Ryan Krebs
Ryan Krebs
Enmarket
Director of Food & Beverage
Building Engagement -- from Innovation to Communication

Ryan Krebs, a classically trained chef, joined Enmarket in January, 2020 after a
career that has included restaurants, fine dining hotels, nonprofits, healthcare
and the convenience store market. He began cooking professionally at the age of
16 and earned a Culinary Arts degree from Johnson & Wales University and a
Dietary Manager’s certification from the University of North Dakota.

Ryan’s prior position was Director of Foodservice at Rutter’s in York, PA, where he
was recognized as 2017’s Food Service Leader of the Year by Convenience Store
News. He also received the 2018 Produce Excellence Award presented by United
Fresh. In addition, Enmarket was recognized as The Foodservice Innovator to
Watch by Convenience Store News in 2020.

Enmarket is Savannah, GA’s largest convenience store chain, employing more
than 1,300 people and operating 129 convenience stores, 14 quick-serve
restaurants and 2 fast casual restaurants in Georgia, North Carolina and South
Carolina. It is ranked the 49th largest convenience store operator in the country.

Benjamin Lucky
Benjamin Lucky
Cal's Convenience
VP-Foodservice
Opening Keynote, Speaker: Ben Lucky, VP-Foodservice, Cal's Convenience

Ben is the culinary change agent, Menu innovator and Concept developer who takes a flavor forward approach in delivering readily executable, duplicable, fresh, and delicious foods to guests. “Earning the guest’s trust, we earn their business and turn them into loyal fans.”
His primary focus is to study food and business trends, then develop a consistent, flavorful and quality offer that appeals to the guests and delivers against Dash In values and the bottom line goals.
Ben developed a wide array of food and beverage concepts in Latin America for the ExxonMobil, On The Run brand after joining the C-store channel from the restaurant industry. He has created menus which have included: craft dogs, fried chicken, pizza, smoothies, fresh bakery, gourmet barista poured coffee and upscale Made to Order hot and cold sandwiches.
In 2014, he won the FARE Culinary Competition, creating an “original, innovative on-the-go style meal”. Later, in November 2016 he was recognized by CSP for having one of the “40 Great C-Store Menu Items” with his Calle Ocho Cuban Sandwich. In 2018, when BP/ampm became the Best New Foodservice Offering award winner for the year as recognized by Convenience Store News, it was Ben who created the menu and offer as their R&D chef.
Now with Dash In, winner of the 2021 Best Foodservice Launch from Convenience Store Decisions, he continues to create delicious foodservice innovations.
A restaurant veteran as well as an Army veteran, Ben has been in both traditional and non-traditional foodservice for over 30 years, in operations, as a sales person, Executive Chef, R&D Chef, and both a director and category manager of food service. He has worked in all countries in North and South America.
He is a Professional Chocolatier and graduate of the Barry Callebaut Ecole Chocolat in Montreal. He earned a Business degree from Regis University in Denver Colorado.
At Dash In, he is proud to have created and trademarked an upscale quesadilla called the Stackadilla ™.
On a personal note, Ben is a ‘Chicken Tender’. He has 6 laying breakfast makers that the 7 grandkids and neighbor kids enjoy watching and feeding.

Brian Mayfield
Brian Mayfield
TechQuidation
President
Appetite for Innovation: Digital Ordering to Maximize Sales & Profits? Sponsored by: Bite

Brian is the founder and President of TechQuidation Inc., a leading technology solutions provider specializing in retail, mobile, and labeling technologies. With over 20 years of dedicated service to the convenience store industry, Brian and his team serve companies operating anywhere from 1 to 12,000 convenience stores, offering innovative technology solutions that streamline operations and enhance customer experiences.

Under Brian's leadership, TechQuidation Inc. has become a trusted technology resource for hundreds of companies that operate convenience stores. Brian's commitment to excellence extends beyond his company and customers. He actively engages in collaborative supply chain relationships, ensuring availability of best-in-class solutions for TechQuidation’s clients.
In addition to his professional endeavors, Brian serves on Epson's Partner Advisory Council, further solidifying his influence and expertise in the technology sector. He is also involved in small business advocacy efforts, notably as a member of the Leadership Council for NFIB/GA, where he champions the interests of small businesses, including convenience store operators, in Georgia.

Brian and his wife, Kim, reside in Canton, GA. True to his rural West Virginia roots, Brian is pursuing goals of catching a fish in every state in the U.S. and fishing the entire length of the New River.

Todd S. McFarland
Todd S. McFarland
Thorntons
Former Leader
Building Engagement -- from Innovation to Communication

With over 38 years of experience in the Convenience Store space, Todd has held leadership positions with Thorntons, 7 Eleven, ExxonMobil, Circle K and Pepsi Cola. Todd is a growth-focused, client centered professional with global and multi market/multi-cultural experience generating brand loyalty and driving revenue growth in the retail, merchandising, and marketing industry. Todd holds a B.S. in Marketing from University of Arizona and MBA in Business from The University of Phoenix.

Mendy Meriwether
Mendy Meriwether
Wawa
Director of Fresh Food & Beverage/Off Prem
Building Engagement -- from Innovation to Communication

Mendy Meriwether is Director of Fresh Food and Beverage for Wawa, Inc., a chain of more than 1000 convenience stores located in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Washington, DC, and Florida. The stores are known for fresh food and beverages, competitive fuel offer and legendary customer service.

Tom Pecsok
Tom Pecsok
Shiftsmart
Senior Director
How deploying a closed loop system paired with fractional labor increases your sales. Sponsored by: ShiftSmart

Tom Pecsok is a seasoned leader with over 15 years of experience driving growth and innovation in the retail industry. As a Senior Director at Shiftsmart, Tom is passionate about revolutionizing the labor space within convenience retail. With a focus on deploying flexible labor solutions, he helps organizations optimize their workforce to increase efficiency and drive sales. Prior to his role at Shiftsmart, Tom held various leadership positions across Category Management, Operations, and Strategy at Dollar Tree and was a Management Consultant for Bain & Company. He has a proven track record of success and is a sought-after expert in retail labor management and optimization. Outside of work, Tom enjoys spending time with his wife and three young children in Virginia Beach.

Rachel Puepke
Rachel Puepke
CEFCO Convenience Stores
Vice President, Marketing & Merchandising
Finding Your Secret Sauce: Harnessing innovation and future forward strategies to create a competitive advantage

Rachel Puepke is a Marketing Executive with over 20 years of experience in CPG, Foodservice, and Retail. She currently serves as VP of Marketing and Merchandising for CEFCO Convenience stores where she entered the Convenience Retail industry in 2021 and relocated to Texas. Since joining CEFCO, she established their brand strategy, expanded her responsibilities to include Foodservice, and launched their new private label brand Y’ALL.
Prior to CEFCO, she spent 17 years at PepsiCo, based out of Orange County, California, where she gained cross-functional experiences in Finance, Sales, and Marketing. During her tenure in Sales Strategy and Customer Marketing, she led teams managing national restaurant chains such as Taco Bell, Little Caesars, and Panda Express, among many others, and was a 4-time Vendor of the Year winner.
Rachel graduated from the University of California, Irvine with a degree in Economics. She’s been a long-standing member of the Women in Foodservice Forum and has been speaking at various Convenience and Foodservice conferences on the topics of private label, foodservice, and digital strategy.

Eric Rush
Eric Rush
Tri Star Energy
Director of Marketing
Appetite for Innovation: Digital Ordering to Maximize Sales & Profits? Sponsored by: Bite

Eric Rush is a 20+ year veteran of the convenience industry with experience in all aspects of the business with stops in operations, engineering, IT and Marketing. Tri Star Energy is located in Nashville TN and includes c-store brands including Twice Daily, Sudden Service, Southern Traders, Little General and premiere coffee brand White Bison.

As Director of Marketing Eric focuses heavily on getting guests in the door, adding to their basket, and through loyalty, learning what motivates them to keep coming back and being as loyal to us as we are to them.

Liza Salaria
Liza Salaria
Impact21
Senior Principal Consultant & Practice Lead
Finding Your Secret Sauce: Harnessing innovation and future forward strategies to create a competitive advantage

Liza brings innovative leadership to Impact 21, inspiring teams to think differently and push the boundaries of traditional industry norms. She taps into her expertise in small format merchandising, marketing, branding, and business strategy to help companies realize their business objectives. Liza’s deep background in merchandising, paired with her knack for strategic thinking, enable her to lead merchandising and marketing strategy that results in achieved sales and gross profit goals. Liza extends her expertise, particularly in fresh food program development, as a NACS speaker.

Liza applied her aptitude for guiding staff and clients, along with her industry savvy, to several senior leadership roles. She served as Senior Director of Brand Concept Development at Sunoco, with past experience as Senior Vice President of Marketing & Merchandising at Mid-Atlantic Convenience Stores and various senior merchandising roles at Giant Eagle.

Liza also brings a wealth of knowledge to wholesale distribution, having over ten years of experience leading wholesale procurement teams in three distribution verticals: grocery, foodservice, and convenience. She has led supply chain projects for companies transitioning from third-party wholesale to internal supplied – establishing procurement teams, wholesale programs, and financial structure

Native to Pennsylvania, Liza graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania with both a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Business Administration in Finance. She has attended many business leadership programs from Duquesne, Carnegie Mellon, and Cornell universities. Liza has returned to her home state of PA, though her career first led her to Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Liza believes in playing an active role to improve living conditions to those that are most in need. She founded Zaden, connecting the world to the exquisite hand-embroidered clothing designs of Kashmir India one stitch at a time. Her teenaged sons keep her busy between track meets, soccer games, and piano recitals. She finds time for herself through running, yoga and relaxing with friends by the fire-pit on weekends.

Paul Servais
Paul Servais
Kwik Trip, Inc.
Senior Director of Food Service
Best Practices in Dispensed Beverages

Paul Servais is the Vice President of Food Service for Kwik Trip, Inc., La Crosse, Wisconsin. Paul has been with Kwik Trip for 25 years. He started as a Store Leader in 1999 and worked his way up to District Leader and then to Vice President. Paul has been in his current role for 16 years and leads the 35-member food service team that oversees food service operations in all 850+ company-owned Kwik Trip/Kwik Star Stores. Paul resides in Arcadia, Wisconsin with his wife Arlene (33 years) and youngest of 3 children, Molly. Paul enjoys hunting, working outside, family, reading, eating, and the Green Bay Packers!

Tony Sparks
Tony Sparks
Curby's Express Market
Former Head of Customer Wow!
Best Practices in Dispensed Beverages

Tony Sparks, now in his 3rd start-up, is Head of Customer Wow for Curby’s Express Market. He comes to Curby’s with 25 years’ experience in convenience retailing holding such positions as VP of Merchandising and Marketing, National Fresh Food Category Manager, and Director of Operations. He has decades of experience bringing new brands to market, product development and commercialization, and creating strategic and tactical merchandising / marketing plans for billion-dollar companies including 7-Eleven and Yesway. He is a University of Nevada graduate with a degree in Finance.

Babir Sultan
Babir Sultan
FavTrip
President
Building Engagement -- from Innovation to Communication

Babir Sultan is an accomplished entrepreneur who has spent his career developing successful businesses in a variety of industries. With a background in leadership, growth, and marketing, Babir has built a reputation as a savvy strategist and a hands-on manager who knows how to grow companies from the ground up. After several successful years with the IT industry in New York, Babir started his own first business, a gas station that heavily focused on marketing and technology. Over the next few years, Babir’s stores grew rapidly, thanks in large part to his keen marketing insights and his ability to build strong relationships in the industry.

Today, Babir is a consultant and speaker, and he works with businesses of all sizes to help them achieve their goals and reach their full potential. Whether he's advising a startup on how to build a winning marketing strategy, or coaching an established company on how to improve its leadership and organizational structure, Babir brings a wealth of experience and expertise to every project he takes on.

Mike Weber
Mike Weber
Upshop
CMO
Maximize Omnichannel with Made-to-Order. Sponsored by: Upshop

Mike Weber, Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) at Upshop, has dedicated his career to the world of retail. He began by delving into retail design and shopper strategy, working with prominent global retailers, including big box stores, grocers, and c-stores. Mike's journey commenced with hands-on activities like conducting shop-alongs and ethnographic research with shoppers. This immersive approach allowed him to glean valuable insights, which he leveraged to develop more effective category strategies and optimize in-store space allocation.

Natalie Wild
Natalie Wild
Bite
Chief Customer Officer
Appetite for Innovation: Digital Ordering to Maximize Sales & Profits? Sponsored by: Bite

Natalie Wild is an accomplished executive with a passion for delivering exceptional customer experiences in the hospitality industry. With various roles in the golf and country club business, technology consultancy for Chick-fil-A’s innovation, and sales for HotSchedules, her more than 20 years of experience is extensive. For the last five years, Natalie has worked with Bite as their Chief Customer Officer guiding the company’s sales and market expansion strategies.

Bonnie Zaring
Bonnie Zaring
RaceTrac
Executive Director of Food Programs & Offers
Finding Your Secret Sauce: Harnessing innovation and future forward strategies to create a competitive advantage

Bonnie has two decades of experience in Retail, with expertise in purchasing, merchandising, and food execution. As a leader in RaceTrac’s merchandising department since 2001, Bonnie is responsible for growing sales and market share in the food service categories including hot foods, fresh foods, bakery, dispensed beverages and Swirl World. She has responsibility overseeing the food merchandising and culinary teams instrumental in growing the RaceTrac food operation. Her earlier roles include Regional Director of Food with Walmart and Fresh Market Manager with Sam’s Club. Bonnie has a bachelor’s degree in business and public relations from Georgia Southern University.

...and more!

Convenience Store News  is now accepting proposals from retailers, research and consulting firms who are interested in speaking at the 2024 Convenience Foodservice Exchange.

If you believe you can educate and inspire c-store retailers to become leaders in providing their customers with a complete fresh food and dispensed beverage experience at their stores, we invite you to submit your proposed topic right away.

The Theme of This Year is...

From beverage strategies and cutting-edge technology to proprietary food offerings and creating an exceptional service culture, the best convenience stores are differentiating themselves to win market share today and into the future.

 

The 2024 Convenience Foodservice Exchange, hosted by Convenience Store News, will bring leading convenience foodservice executives together with innovative supplier partners to maximize opportunities, solve problems and grow their foodservice sales.

 

Key topics to be covered include:

  • Successful Winning Formulas for Prepared Foods, Beverages & Fresh Bakery
  • Profitability in the Face of Changing Market Dynamics
  • EVs Impact on Foodservice
  • Evolution and Future of C-store Foodservice
  • Instituting a New Foodservice Strategy from the Ground Up
  • How to Win with Dispensed Beverages
  • Building Loyalty Through Guest Engagement - Augmenting Your Digital Strategy with Physical Programs

and much more.