Convenience Stores Triumph in Time of Panic – Industry Report Out

Convenience Store

Please Note: The information in this article was sourced from NACS (National Association of Convenience Stores), PDI Insights Cloud and csnews.com (Convenience Store News). For more information about the below topics please visit the following websites: https://www.convenience.org/ ; https://go.pdisoftware.com/COVID19ImpactOnCustomerBehaviorhttps://csnews.com/

As a leading walk-in cooler manufacturer, U.S. Cooler outfits many convenience stores with walk-in coolers and freezers. We care about the convenience store industry and understand that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted each person and business differently. Today, we take a look at how the pandemic has affected the convenience store industry as a whole and how the behavior of consumers has changed in response.

With many consumers working from home, convenience stores, or c-stores, took a hit. The everyday consumer who would typically stop in for breakfast items or an afternoon snack while filling up their gas tanks were playing it safe at home. According to NACS, one-third of consumers were no longer making their commute to work, and for c-stores, this meant a low in normal rush hour routines. During this time, we also saw gas prices hit a record low. Fewer consumers were filling up their tanks, and those who did fill up were spending a lot less on gas. The combination of the change in consumer routines, cost of goods, and an overall fear of the virus led to an 11.5% decrease in total convenience store sales from January to April when comparing sales to 2019.

Top 5 Best Selling Replacement Parts for Your Walk-in Cooler and Freezer

Does your walk-in cooler or freezer have parts in need of an update? Then we have a solution for you that is easy and comes at a great value.

Walk-In Cooler Parts is an online retailer for replacement parts and accessories for walk-in coolers and freezers. The online platform allows you to easily search for the part you need and place an order quickly! Orders are processed in 1-2 business days and shipped directly to you. It’s as simple as that!

Check out our 5 Bestselling Parts:

KASON 1095 Door Closer
Click the image for more information.

1. Door Closer – Spring Action KASON 1095

Anyone and everyone who owns a walk-in cooler or freezer needs to have a good door closer on their unit. The KASON 1095 is an excellent option and is our best-selling part!

There are several benefits to upgrading your door closer to a KASON 1095:

  • Allows door to close quickly. When a cooler door is closed or left to close on its own, it is important that the door closer mechanism is quick-acting and locks the door into place. This helps maintain temperature and energy efficiency.
  • Quiet. The rubber roller on the door closer quickly locks the door into place without creating any loud noises. This is important to cut down on kitchen noise, especially for coolers that may be in an environment that is close to customers. Nobody wants to hear a heavy walk-in cooler door slam shut during dinner!
  • Durable. The KASON 1095 is complete with a simple spring mechanism that allows the door closer to have a long-lasting, trouble-free lifespan. Complete with a patented solid steel housing and bend-resistant hook, this closer is guaranteed to have a long life, even with heavy use!
  • Easy Installation. This door closure is easy to install by simply snapping it onto a concealed mounting plate, and can be used for many brands of walk-in coolers or freezers. The package includes the closer, hook, mounting bracket, and screws. Click here for installation instructions!

Employee Highlight – Tom Griggs

Our valued employees make Craig Industries a great company. We are so appreciative of their dedication and hard work. This month we’re highlighting a long-time employee, Production Supervisor, Tom Griggs, who has been with the company for 17 years!

Meet Tom Griggs!

How did you get your start at Craig Industries?

I started with Craig Industries in October of 2002 in the Setup Department.

What is your current role at Craig Industries and what other positions have you held in the past?

I’m currently a Production Supervisor over Door, Metal, Glue & Finish. I have also worked in Sales & Sales Support for Craig Industries, I have also been the lead in all of the departments I oversee at some point in my 17 years with the company.

What do you like most about your current role?

I enjoy working to help the company grow and improve the quality of the product.

What kept you working at Craig Industries? And how has the company changed since you started?

I like the family atmosphere here at Craig Industries and how they treat their employees.

What has been your favorite project at Craig Industries?

Company trips to Mexico, helping with the company cookouts, and helping to improve the company any way I can.

What is your motto or personal mantra?

Work smarter not harder.

What three traits define you?

Hard working, self-motivated, and punctual.

What hobbies and interests do you have outside of work?

I enjoy bowling, hunting, fishing & spending time with my family.

Tell us about your family. Any exciting developments?

I have 3 kids, Mackenzie is 17 a senior in high school and has joined the Illinois National Guard, Jakob is 15 a freshman in high school and enjoys playing on the football team, Sean is 12 and is in 7th grade he enjoys playing soccer & video games. My Cynthia and I have been married for 5 years, she works for Blue Cross.

Employee Highlight – Sharon Martz & Sarah Gray!

Our valued employees make Craig Industries a great company. We are so appreciative of their dedication and hard work. This month we’re highlighting two employees – Sharon Martz & Sarah Gray. They are family members (mother-daughter) and current long-time employees.

Meet Sharon Martz & Sarah Gray!

(Left: Sharon Martz, Sales Support Supervisor; Right: Sarah Gray, Accounts Receivable Specialist)

How long have you worked at Craig Industries?

Sharon: 15 years this month!

Sarah: 4 years!

What is your current role at Craig Industries and what other positions have you held in the past?

Sharon: My current role is Sales Support Supervisor. I started in Accounting doing Costing. Also, I did Marketing for a short period of time before moving into Sales Support. Most of my career has been in Sales Support.

Sarah: My current role is Accounts Receivable Specialist. In the past, I have held secretarial and Accounts Payable positions.

How did it come about that Sarah ended up working at Craig Industries?

Sharon: My daughter, Sarah, was home from College and looking for a job. There was an opening for receptionist/secretarial here so she applied.

Sarah: There was an opening for a secretarial position – and at the time I was looking for a new job.

What is it like working with a family member?

Sharon: It is great. I love seeing Sarah every day.

Sarah: Fantastic! My mom is my best friend.

What is your favorite part of your job?

Sharon: The people I work with and solving issues.

Sarah: The people I work with.

What three traits define you?

Sharon: I have been told that I am very patient, which I think I am. Also, faithful and dependable.

Tell us about your family. Any exciting developments?

Sharon: My husband Don and I have been married for 38 years. We have two adult children – Greg and Sarah. Greg, who serves our country in the U.S. Air Force, is stationed in Little Rock, AR. Greg has two children Amber, who is 9 years old and Alex, who is 7 years old. Sarah and her husband, Isaac, live here in Quincy with their two dogs – Stella and Oliver. Don and I love spending time with our family and riding our Harley’s.

Sarah: I just bought my first home and we have a brand new puppy!

Albers Named Nevada Regional Sales Manager

Quincy, IL, September 4, 2019 – Tia Albers was named Regional Sales Manager for the state of Nevada. Albers has been with the company for eight years serving the East/Northeast and Northwest/Mountain Territories. This experience, along with her enthusiasm and professionalism, will lend itself well toward serving U.S. Cooler’s customer base.

U.S. Cooler is happy to expand Alber’s territory and customer base and is assured she will be a valued addition to the state of Nevada and our organization’s aim to enhance dealer support.

For additional information on Albers Named Nevada Regional Sales Manager, contact Amanda Welker or visit www.uscooler.com.

Bliefnick Named Western Regional Sales Manager

Quincy, IL, September 4, 2019 – Tommy Bliefnick was named Regional Sales Manager for U.S. Cooler’s Western Territory, including California and Arizona. Bliefnick has been with the company for four years serving the greater Phoenix, AZ territory. He currently resides in Tempe, AZ. This experience, along with his enthusiasm and professionalism, will lend itself well toward serving U.S. Cooler’s customer base.

U.S. Cooler is happy to expand Bliefnick’s territory and customer base and is assured he will be a valued addition to this territory and our organization’s aim to enhance dealer support.

For additional information on Bliefnick Named Western Regional Sales Manager, contact Amanda Welker or visit www.uscooler.com.

Rothwell Named Mid-East Regional Sales Manager

Quincy, IL, August 29, 2019 – Kristin Rothwell was named Regional Sales Manager for U.S. Cooler’s Mid-East Territory, including Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. Rothwell is from Nashville, TN and brings with her many years of experience as a Regional Area Manager, managing commerce with direct purchase suppliers such as raw materials to equipment manufacturers. This experience, along with her enthusiasm and professionalism, will lend itself well toward serving U.S. Cooler’s customer base.

U.S. Cooler is happy to bring her on board and is assured Kristin will be a valued addition to this territory and our organization’s aim to enhance dealer support.

For additional information on Rothwell Named Mid-East Regional Sales Manager, contact Amanda Welker or visit www.uscooler.com.

Industry Trends and Cold Storage Solutions with Amanda Welker from Craig Industries, Inc.

This post was first published on Brewers of Pennsylvania blog. The Brewers of Pennsylvania is a nonprofit trade association that brings together leaders of Pennsylvania-based breweries in order to promote and protect the brewing industry in the state. Established in 2011, the Brewers of Pennsylvania serves the consuming public of Pennsylvania by encouraging brand diversity in the market. We believe in the nobility of brewing and hold dear the great traditions and history of Pennsylvania brewing.

“Ice-cold beer” — it’s an iconic phrase, and one that you’ll still find on signs and menus all over the country. While at first glance, the slogan might seem trite, the idea of keeping beer cold is nonetheless integral. From storage and quality assurance to presenting the final product to the consumer, commercial cooling options are essential to breweries and taprooms. With the advent of the craft brewing industry, the invention of supporting technologies has boomed, and cooling and refrigeration equipment are no exception.

It’s a good thing, too! The growing presence of discerning consumers and the overarching demand for a large variety of beer styles to be available at once has made innovative cool storage options a necessity.

When U.S. Cooler (a division of Craig Industries) was founded in 1986, the craft beer movement was just beginning to gain momentum. At that time, U.S. Cooler focused on providing customized cold storage solutions. It’s been decades, but that is still the company’s focus. Its 58,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Quincy, Illinois, is the base of operations, and directly serves many industries, including breweries and tap houses.

Quite a bit has changed in the brewing industry since the 1980s, so what has changed in cold storage? “We’re seeing a growing trend of people wanting to taste beer on location at the brewery. Brewery tap houses and growler stations are thriving.” This is the insight of Amanda Welker, marketing and communications specialist for Craig Industries, Inc.

On-Site Tasting

To meet the demands for on-site tasting, U.S. Cooler has concentrated on customizing its Brew Cave©, a walk-in cooler solution for breweries and taprooms of all sizes. On a larger scale, U.S. Cooler installs full-size warehouses for its customers. “Your warehouse can be located indoors or outdoors with the use of a vinyl rain roof and sloped foam,” Amanda noted. “We can partition the warehouse if you need to have separate rooms with different holding temps. Our warehouses can be fitted with large doors to accommodate forklifts or built with openings for garage doors.”

Mobile Taps

Another industry trend that has developed is the need to serve draught beer in a mobile environment. Whether it’s outdoor festivals, weddings or concerts, the demand for fresh craft beer at certain events is now a consumer expectation.

“We produce a product called Brew Wagon, which is a mobile, walk-in cooler unit integrated with a trailer — refrigeration included,” Amanda explained. “A Brew Wagon allows you to serve at locations where you wouldn’t normally have access to refrigerated storage. Taps and drip trays can be installed on the side of your Brew Wagon, giving you the ability to serve straight from the tap, no matter where you are.”

Technology like Brew Wagon is evidence of how industries adjunct to brewery operations are developing ways to meet the needs of both breweries and consumers.

Taprooms and Growler Fills

For modern-day consumers, it’s almost become expected to find a number of beers on tap with the option to purchase a growler to go. This demand has created an increased need for effective tap solutions. That’s why companies like U.S. Cooler have designed technologies specifically for this industry trend.

“No matter how many kegs you have on tap, we can design a cooler to accommodate them all,” Amanda said. “We can work around the layout of your space with angled designs. Shelving is available to organize kegs and maximize space efficiency. It can be mounted on concrete. Additionally, insulated floors are optional for those looking to increase energy efficiency.”

In addition to interior walk-in solutions, U.S. Cooler has a Brew Wall product that can be installed directly to walk-in coolers. “Brew Walls are designed to be a visible, multi-use application of your walk-in cooler. We can install taps into your Brew Wall for quick easy access. No need for a separate kegerator when you can tap your kegs straight from the walk-in,” Amanda added.

Luckily, replacement parts for custom coolers are available, so brewers aren’t left holding the buck when items need maintenance. “If you need replacement parts for your walk-in cooler or freezer, visit our parts website at www.walkincoolerparts.com,” Amanda said.

With such a rapid pace of change in the brewing industry, it’s hard to imagine what new trends and technologies will emerge just 10 or 20 years from now. In the meantime, it’s a good thing that companies like U.S. Cooler are here to help meet the needs of brewers and taprooms nationwide.

Nathan Greenwood

Photos: Craig Industries, Inc.