John Bennett has experience in both foodservice and convenience store operations. John was the director of operations for a 34 location restaurant chain in California when before he joined Starbucks as a Regional Director. While with Starbucks he oversaw 145 coffee shops that spanned 800 miles and over 2000 employees. In 2011 John took on a new role as the Retail Operations Manager for Robinson Oil Company in California where he oversaw 34 highly profitable c-stores.
John has his MBA from National University and has been a faculty/facilitator member at University of Phoenix instructing undergraduate and graduate business classes for the past 17 years. He and his wife of 34 years recently relocated to South Carolina. They have three children and one amazing granddaughter
Jeff Bernard, President of J Bernard Associates LLC, advises petroleum marketers on business strategies, organizational improvement, convenience store retailing, and business valuation. Jeff’s over 40 years of experience in the petroleum business began with a 30-year career at Mobil Oil Corporation in field marketing and Planning Management.
Jeff is a graduate of The Pennsylvania State University, lives in West Chester, Pennsylvania with his wife LeeAnn and has three adult children.
Francis O. Bologna, CPA, President of Francis Bologna & Associates, LLC, specializes in the petroleum industry. His area of expertise is business valuations in conjunction with acquisitions, sales or mergers of petroleum marketer companies.
In the mid-1980s Francis began specializing in the petroleum industry by working with family owned businesses as well as Fortune 100 companies on the principles of improving profitability. He entered semi-retirement in 2006 by selling his interest as one of the founding partners of the professional accounting and consulting firm of Wegmann-Dazet & Company, CPAs to his fellow partners.
Francis has published papers on Image Money, Rebranding Analysis, and Business Valuations for the petroleum industry and has been a frequent speaker and workshop facilitator for major oil companies and state petroleum associations. He is a Professional Member of NSA (National Speakers Association), Past-President of NSA New Orleans Chapter, and Past National Treasurer, and current National Board Member of the National Speakers Association. Francis also has served on the National Board of Childcare Worldwide, a nonprofit organization, helping to meet the needs of children in some of the world’s poorest countries.
He and his wife Cookie have five children and have been blessed with many grandchildren! The Bolognas with all their children and grandchildren make their home in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Jedidiah (Jed) W. Brewer, Ph.D. is President of Study Groups. Dr. Brewer holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Arizona and has spent over fifteen years studying aspects of the retail gasoline industry. He has extensively analyzed the impact hypermarts have had on traditional gasoline retailers, examined spatial brand competition in the industry, and estimated the effect of wholesale gasoline cost fluctuations on retail margins and profitability. In addition to his work in retail gasoline, Dr. Brewer has published a series of articles in academic journals describing water management and allocation issues in the semi-arid western United States. He has also taught select economics courses at Western Washington University and the University of Arizona.
Ed Collupy is a 30-year industry veteran and currently an Executive Consultant with W. Capra Consulting Group, a leading Payment, Retail Technology and Security partner providing services and solutions to many major established retailers and emerging businesses. Ed previously served as The Pantry’s Vice President of Information Technology where he led The Pantry’s technology plans through their rapid growth from 400 stores to over 1500 stores.
Ed has served the industry as Chairman of the Board of Advisors of Conexxus and continues to be a member of their Board of Directors. He has also been a member of VeriFone’s Petroleum Advisory Council, Retalix’ Executive Advisory Board, and in advisory roles on the NACS Technology Council and Conference Education Committee. He is a past recipient of Convenience Store News Top IT Exec of the year recognition.
As an active participant in organizations outside the industry, Ed co-founded and is currently the Chairperson of Share The Blessings, Inc., a non-profit with a charter to provide education and clean water with a focus on Ugandan villages.
Ed and his wife Debi live in Cape Cod, MA.
Bill Cotey, President of C2 Consulting, Chicago Illinois, specializes in sales management processes, organizational sales alignment, compensation design, sales hiring and training and sales business strategies for public and privately held companies. Bill worked in a family business dealership in the office furniture industry, and for Uline, a privately held business in warehouse distribution till 2005. He was one of the founding family businesses at the University of Illinois family business center, where he taught classes in sales and entrepreneurial study and family succession. During his tenure at the University, Bill was Director of Family Education and was a facilitator for several family forums groups. C2 Consulting has worked with companies in various industries, and for the last nine years Bill ran a water treatment company, selling it in 2016. Bill holds graduated from Drake University, Des Moines Iowa with a BS in Marketing.
Paul Demboski – graduated from The Ohio State University with a BSBA in accounting. After graduation, Paul worked for Deloitte and Touche as a CPA in audit area for 8 years before beginning his career in the private sector with a prominent family business, Crane Group, in Columbus, Ohio, where he was CFO for the Crane Group Companies, which held majority stakes in 10 separate business units across the Midwest. In 2009, Paul became the President of the construction business unit, which grew from 8 to 19 locations during his tenure. In 2014, he joined Certified Oil Company, as Sr. VP and CFO until the business was sold in late 2019. He and his wife, Bonnie, live in Columbus, Ohio with their four daughters. Paul enjoys traveling, sports including snow and water skiing, golf, basketball, biking, hiking, and fishing as well as giving back to his community through various charitable organizations.
Ben Esget, President of WealthMark LLC, has his MBA from Western Washington University. His career includes time as an analyst at Citigroup, as an accounting auditor with Moss Adams and as an investment advisor. Ben started his own investment advisory company in 2007 and WealthMark was born. WealthMark continues to focus on risk management, diversification, and building strong client relationships – all hallmarks of its’ founding.
Gene Gerke is Owner of Gerke & Associates, Inc. a management consulting firm. He focuses on strategic and business planning, business benchmarking, executive consultation, and succession planning. In addition to consulting, Gene serves as a director on several boards.
Gene has been providing consulting services to the convenience store and petroleum marketing industries for more than 25 years and has done consulting throughout North America, South America, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, and Japan.
His community involvement is extensive. Gene has served as President of the Missouri Innovation Center; Board of Directors of the Columbia Area United Way; Board of Directors of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce; President of the Sacred Heart Church Parish Council; Treasurer of the Missouri FarmHouse Foundation; President of the Columbia Kiwanis Club; and Member of the Governor’s Missouri Seed Capital Investment Board. Gene currently serves as Vice President of Centennial Investors, an angel investing network.
He has degrees from Purdue University and the University of Missouri.
Gene and his wife, Pat, live in Columbia, Missouri. They have three adult children: Brian, Alison, and Emily.
Ken Gunn, as President of Caliber Consulting, provides Strategic and Operational Professional Services for Petroleum Marketers. To keep marketers nimble with changing markets, Ken conducts in-depth assessments of organizational structures, business processes and IT tools, identifies areas to improve and any gaps that need to be filled, and develops a project plan to tackle the activities identified to support the near and longer term strategies.
Ken’s family has been around the oil patch since the late 1940s with three generations working in numerous capacities at Chevron. Starting in 1981 Ken worked 14 years at Chevron starting in a service station while getting his MBA at night at the University of Puget Sound. After four moves and multiple job assignments, he left and started his consulting practice.
Ken is active in supporting marketer education through talks at industry events and his supporting education role at SIGMA.
Sam Herro is the Director of Member Development at Study Groups. For the past decade, Sam has sought innovative ways to change the how, what, and where of wholesale and retail fueling. He previously served as the Director of Fuel for a multiple-hundred store midwestern chain — leading the operations and development of one of the nation’s largest retail portfolios of future fuels that included E15, E85, biodiesel, and EV.
As a frequent speaker at industry events, Sam has discussed digital innovation, industry forecasts, and more at conferences such as Outlook Leadership, NACS, and SIGMA.
Sam holds a B.S. in Agricultural Economics & Business Management from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and serves as a board member of several local non-profits. He is an avid amateur fly fisherman, cyclist, and rock climber.
Bill McCollough, President of WCM, Inc., advises petroleum marketers and companies serving petroleum distributors. Over a 32-year career at CITGO Petroleum Corporation, he had significant accomplishments in marketing, acquisitions, information systems, finance and administration. He has a history of leading teams, increasing productivity, decreasing expenses and producing explosive growth.
Bill is a Certified Public Accountant and received his Bachelor of Science in Accounting from the University of Arkansas. He attended the Executive Leadership Program at Harvard University.
Bill and his wife Shauna of 31 years are the proud parents of two grown children.
Terry McKenna is an internationally acclaimed speaker, author, and consultant on the topics of human capital optimization and organizational design: people and systems. Terry has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, and the Harvard Business School corporate training video, Benchmarking Outside the Box.
Terry is principal and co-founder of Employee Performance Strategies, Inc. (EPS), and its division, Convenience Store Coaches. EPS is the leading authority in helping organizations maximize their financial results by maximizing their workforces.
Before co-founding EPS, Terry worked with ExxonMobil for seventeen years, where he led the development and implementation of a national customer service strategy. In addition, he led the achievement of ISO-9002 certification for customer service for convenience stores for ExxonMobil’s Singapore marketing affiliate.
David M. Nelson, Ph.D., is professor of Economics at Western WA University and founder and president of Study Groups. He has 30+ years’ experience in the petroleum marketing industry, having published several studies on the valuation of petroleum distributors, c-store profitability, and other topics of interest to distributors. Nelson was a co-founder of CSX, LLC.
Dr. Nelson’s economics and finance background, coupled with his knowledge in the petroleum marketing industry, has led him to be a frequent speaker before industry groups and a developer and presenter of training programs in the industry.
In 1985, Nelson was invited by a group of five Northwestern petroleum jobbers to serve as the financial consultant and facilitator for the first financial study group to form in the petroleum marketing industry. Today, through Study Groups, the opportunity to participate in a Study Group is made available to petroleum marketers throughout North America.
Nelson lives in Bellingham, Washington and enjoys skiing, backpacking, gardening, and travel. He and his wife Lynne have four married children, four grandchildren, and 50 sponsored children in the Third World.
Sarah Pell, CPA, is the owner of Sarah Pell CPA, a firm that specializes in accounting and tax planning for small businesses, start-ups, and non-profit organizations. Prior to opening her own practice, Sarah worked at Sharrard McGee & Co. a public accounting firm in Greensboro, North Carolina where she worked as a tax accountant and financial consultant with a focus in physician-owned health care practices. Sarah began her career as a Certified Public Accountant with Moss Adams, LLP in Bellingham, Washington, working in the areas of tax, financial review and internal control compliance (SOX).
Sarah serves on the board of a number of non-profits and serves as a trusted consultant for entrepreneurs in the Spokane area. Sarah graduated from Western Washington University with a degree in accounting and lives in Spokane, Washington with her husband and three children.
Ann Pitts is a petroleum industry veteran with over 16 years’ experience as a consultant, speaker and meeting facilitator.
After working for years as a commercial banker, Ann joined the petroleum consulting firm Meridian Associates in Mergers & Acquisitions where she represented owners who wanted to sell their petroleum business. Finding appropriate buyers and working through to a successful close was both challenging and extremely rewarding.
Over the past 16 years, Ann has been an invited speaker at Meridian events, supplier meetings, State Association gatherings and SIGMA events. In addition to speaking, Ann has frequently served as a meeting facilitator for these same associations. She is also a contributing writer to the Below the Line Club Newsletter, Fuel Marketer News and other various industry publications.
In 2013 Ann founded her own consulting practice, continuing to help petroleum marketers achieve their business goals. She currently lives in Weatherford, Texas with her husband John and dog Bo.
Ben Scellick, CPA, is Vice President of Study Groups. He has experience in public accounting working with manufacturing and distribution companies, banks and tribal governments. After public accounting Ben spent over a decade with an investment advisory firm where he served as the president and chief investment officer and is still active in the industry today. He joined the Study Groups management team in 2014.
Ben graduated from Western Washington University with degrees in both accounting and finance and is a Certified Public Accountant. He and his wife Kamille live in Bellingham, Washington with their three daughters.
Daylen Stoutin is President of Clearwater Data Solutions LLC where he works to help petroleum marketers leverage their data to improve performance. Before founding Clearwater, Daylen served on the executive teams of Retif Oil & Fuel and Warrior Energy.
He holds Bachelors degrees in Economics and Business Administration from McDaniel College.
Daylen lives in Salt Lake City, Utah with his wife and two small children. He enjoys hiking, drinking coffee and speculating about the future of technology.
Alan L. Sylvester owns and serves as president of GenerAction LLC, a private consulting company primarily serving the petroleum industry with emphasis in strategic planning, asset optimization, acquisitions and operations management.
Alan retired from CITGO Petroleum Company in 2006 after 30 years of service as President of CITGO Pipeline Investment Company and General Manager, Non-refining Operations. His experience in the light products and lubricants segments of the petroleum industry includes engineering, planning, supply, logistics and operations, as well as business unit responsibility for CITGO’s integrated lubricant business. He has particular expertise in light products pipelines and terminals and has consulted extensively in these areas to bring added value to his clients’ businesses.
Alan holds a B.S. in civil engineering, an M.S. in engineering management and attended Harvard University’s executive leadership program and the transportation institute at Northwestern University. He is a registered Professional Engineer.
Alan and his wife, Sharon, live in Tulsa, OK where they are active in their church and community outreach projects.
L. Mitchell Vandiver, III, became president of Strategies, Inc., in 2003 following a diverse career in banking. As president of Strategies, Mitch is entrusted to guide the growth of family businesses, navigate succession, mediate conflict, preserve and protect family wealth, and safeguard the family legacy.
Combined with his extensive background in finance, Mitch’s experiences ground him as a key player and leader specializing in problems of the Founder/CEO and family businesses across all industries and with a heavy concentration in fuel distribution and convenience store operations.
He both consults and speaks nationally on a range of topics, including board and governance development, strategic planning, communication and conflict management, organizational lifecycles, and succession planning within family businesses. Mitch has also been honored as a Fellow of the Family Firm Institute with the designation of ACFBA – Advanced Certificate in Family Business Advising. Mitch provides practical, insightful and provocative advice on multiple levels.