August 4, 2016


Management Team

David M. Nelson, Ph.D., is professor of Economics at Western WA University and founder and CEO 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.

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.

Jed and his wife Lindsay live in Bellingham, Washington with their three kids. 


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.

Tressa Throgmorton is Director of Business Development of Study Groups. She has a degree in Economics and Business Administration from Western Washington University. She has spent her professional career in the construction industry in a range of operational and finance roles with specialized contractors in the structural concrete, HVAC, plumbing and electrical trades. 

Tressa and her husband have two wonderful sons and enjoy life in the Pacific Northwest with a home in Blaine, Washington.


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.

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.

Ann Pitts has been in the petroleum industry since 2002, with experience as an industry consultant, speaker and meeting facilitator.

In 2014 Ann left the consulting firm she worked in as an industry generalist to start her own business helping petroleum companies refine their internal Credit and Collection processes. Uncovering blind spots, improving antiquated systems and sharing best practices with employees results in a vastly improved accounts receivable asset class. Ann finds the work both rewarding and challenging, and is grateful for her years of association with the petroleum industry.

Derrick Scheid has a variety of professional experiences primarily in nonprofit organizations. He has also worked with small businesses and in the area of investment management. Within these varied roles he has built teams, taught leaders, facilitated staff meetings and led many small groups. He serves as the chair on the board of a local non-profit which focuses on building community and serving youth.

Derrick did his Masters work in Theology and undergraduate work in Journalism. He and his wife Biz live in Bellingham, Washington with their 2 daughters and son.

Randolf “Randy” Seibert is an executive and entrepreneur with diverse industry experience, presently serving as an adjunct lecturer and as a director or senior advisor to several established and emerging businesses in the Richmond, Virginia area. Randy was the C.E.O. of Manchester Marketing, a closely-held enterprise with several businesses throughout Virginia including petroleum distribution, convenience stores, motor vehicle auctions, and one of the largest motor vehicle towing concerns in central Virginia. In late 2013, Randy divested his company’s petroleum distribution business at a premium valuation. While in the petroleum industry he served on the BP/BPAMA National Leadership Board and was a member of Study Group 1200.

Randy now teaches an entrepreneurship elective for which he wrote the curriculum to second-year M.B.A. students at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He is a member of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Richmond where he lives with his wife Aimee and their daughters Amelia Cate and Jane Randolph. Randy is a graduate of the College of William & Mary with dual concentrations in finance and philosophy and has an M.B.A. from the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He is also an instrument-rated private pilot.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Jarod Downing, owner of Downing Business Services, LLC, serves as a business advisor/consultant and fractional CEO/CFO for client companies across multiple different industries. He utilizes more than 20 years of experience in Accounting/Finance/Operations to lead clients through building best-in-class finance/accounting teams, designing and implementing strategic initiatives, and preparing exit plans for owners.

Jarod’s experience in the petroleum industry includes eight years as CFO for a Fuel Marketer and Convenience Store operator in Indiana. Working in connection with external advisors, he guided the family-owned company through a successful sale transaction to a large regional supermarket and convenience store operator. During his time as CFO, Jarod was a Study Group participant and is excited to serve the organization as a facilitator.

Jarod earned an MBA from the Indiana University Kelley School of Business and a B.S. Degree in Finance from Butler University. He and his wife, AnnCatherine, reside in Indianapolis, IN with their three children

Jon Kelly, VP of Marketing for Titan Cloud Software, spent five years with ExxonMobil in various sales and marketing roles after graduating from the Wharton School in 2011. He left ExxonMobil in 2016 to found Canary Compliance, a technology company that provides smart, simple, affordable remote tank monitoring to UST owners and operators. This experience gave him significant exposure to petroleum equipment, UST regulations, and facilities management, as well as the retailers and service providers involved with equipment and facilities. In 2021, Canary merged with Titan Cloud Software, an industry-leading technology provider that aims to bring operational efficiency and compliance to every fueling facility in the world.

Jon is actively involved with industry associations such as PEI, NACS, Conexxus, and ASTSWMO. He lives in Philadelphia, PA with his wife Jenny.

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.

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.

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.

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

Randy Fulkerson has been involved in the Convenience Store Industry for over 52 years and has a broad knowledge of the Industry. As Chairman and CEO of a 110+ convenience store chain, he led a company which did over $500 million in sales and employed over 1,200 associates. During his headship of the company, Randy implemented many of his own initiatives and programs which led to the company receiving CSP’s Customer Outlook Award for Best Customer Service and Convenience Store Decisions Chain of the Year award. In addition, he initiated vertical integration by starting a warehouse and commissary for the chain’s 110+ stores.


He is a Past Board Member of the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), member of NACS’ Research and Development Board Committee, and Past Chairman of the National Convenience Store Advisory Group (NCSAG). He was selected on CSP Magazine’s Top 25 Influentials’ List for the Convenience Store Industry in 2005.


Randy was part owner of Convenience Directions before selling to Convenience Decisions, and was instrumental in starting the 2500 Study Group. He and his wife Peggy reside in Mesa, Arizona and have 3 children and 6 grandchildren.

Joel Davies’ family has been in the gas station business since the 1930s, so he grew up washing windows at customer events and helping his dad collect gasoline prices whenever they traveled.

Joel studied accounting in San Diego, CA and passed the CPA exam before shifting gears and joining a start-up high school sports fundraising company. When Joel was ready to start a family he moved back to his hometown of Bakersfield, CA and joined the family fuel businesses (Fleet Card Fuels, Nikolaus Tank Lines, and Renegade Truckstop’s). During his tenure he held various roles in the supply and logistics departments. Joel was also able to attend several Study Group meetings with his father, Rick Davies, who was a member of the 100 Group.

In 2011, the Davies family sold its operating companies to Flyer’s Energy (a member of their Study Group). At this time, Joel went to work for his logistics software provider, TelaPoint, in a sales role. He spent the next 11 years working for many of the leading fuel industry technology companies including Intellifuel, PDI, and Insite360. In 2021, Joel dusted off his accounting textbooks and green eyeshade and came back to work for the family business when their long-time controller retired. When not debiting and crediting, Joel serves as a consultant to fuel technology companies and is very excited to join The Study Groups team as a facilitator.