It was full speed ahead for members of the convenience store industry during the NACS conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, this year. With the constant and ever-evolving trends in the industry, our team was excited to share our expertise while learning from others through networking and attending breakout sessions. We were honored to highlight our strategic alliance with Bona Design Lab and our commitment to growing with the industry, which includes becoming a trusted advisor in the EV fast-charging space.
We recently caught up with a few attendees, Jamie Barnes, Branson Hall, Scott West (P.E.), James Owens (AIA, NCARB), and Jami Cook (AIA, NCARB), to find out what aspects of the conference impacted them personally and professionally. Check out their thoughts below!
Q: What was the most exciting aspect of NACS for you?
Jami: My biggest takeaway was the store/site impact considerations when implementing EV. If someone is now spending 30 minutes waiting on a charge, what does that look like? What amenities are we considering, either inside or outside? Picture this: heading to a big box retailer's parking lot and carrying a dog across the hot pavement to find grass while charging on a road trip versus stopping somewhere with an inviting green space with shaded picnic tables to enjoy some sandwiches for lunch while your dog is in the dog park. The store's interior might offer a lounge-like space to enjoy coffee and field a few things on a laptop in comfort.
James: One of the most exciting parts of NACS was meeting with existing clients. At HFA, we pride ourselves on “leading our clients to fulfill their vision while building lasting partnerships.” NACS is the perfect format to allow that to happen. The HFA team met with many of our current clients who attend NACS to seek out the latest trends, learn, and help inform them of future decisions. Seeing clients outside the typical working environment was a great way to have some meaningful conversations with clients about what they were looking to accomplish. It also gives us a greater understanding of their needs so that we can focus on being the solution provider they need. Additionally, we had the fortunate opportunity to meet up with some clients outside of the conference hours for drinks and dinner, which led to excellent opportunities for building relationships, one of our Shared Values.
Branson: One of the most exciting innovations I was excited to learn more about at NACS was dry sump testing equipment from Bravo. We’ve been trying to get info on this new equipment for a while now, so it was good to see it in person and learn more about it for our clients that want to use it.
Scott: Electric vehicle charging was a hot topic at NACS and for me personally. I was fortunate enough to be the one preaching about it throughout the show! There were many discussions and interests surrounding EV charging, and we were happy to be part of the discussion.
Jamie: At NACS, I was fortunate to attend a meeting with Franklin Fueling and OPW, two well-known, reputable fueling industry manufacturers. Then, on Sunday evening, I met with potential fueling contacts and clients interested in hearing more about our firm and our work. Making connections like this is invaluable for the growth of my team and HFA.
Q: Tell us about one innovation/trend you learned at the conference.
Jami: Hussman’s focus on self-contained cooler condensers that sit right on top of the cooler box—good for remodels with limited roof space.
James: NACS is about walking the conference floor and seeing new products and trends, as well as catching up with some existing vendor partners to gain insight and share our challenges and wins with potential clients. With regards to trends, EV is not going away. That was a big topic of discussion among conference attendees and seminars. What was interesting was to learn and hear about some of the statistics. While EV is becoming more prevalent in the market sector, how long will it take to saturate and change the market? There still needs to be a focus on the market sectors that have been the core of the convenience industry for so long. Many clients were talking about the continuing focus on the corner market and that trends in fueling, EV, food, and QSR will continue to support that focus for years to come.
Branson: Fuel equipment manufacturers are gearing up for EV charging by offering some “future” installation equipment for owners to install at their sites.
Scott: I learned about a Level 2 EV charger that can charge as quickly as a Level 3! Essentially it charges a stationary battery bank when vehicles aren't present, and then it discharges the battery when a vehicle plugs in. It works with a 208 Volt electric supply. It's probably not practical for high-frequency usage, but I could see this making total sense for low-frequency charging. Pretty nifty!
Jamie: More states are potentially going to double-walled equipment for fuel.
Q: What's a trend in the industry that isn't going away soon?
Jami: EV charging is the most significant trend, but it is still gaining momentum. And for the inside of the store trend? Self-checkouts.
Branson: Traditional fueling isn’t going away anytime soon.
Scott: Electric vehicles and how they will impact convenience retail in the years to come.
Jamie: Traditional fueling.
Q: Any final takeaways?
James: NACS provided an excellent opportunity to highlight our strategic alliance with Bona Design Lab (BDL). It has been over a year since we broadcast this news to the industry, and the past year has proved that the HFA + BDL strategic alliance provides clients with a true "one-stop shopping" experience. It has been amazing to share resources and go after opportunities together—with some wins and some losses along the way. It was great to spend some face-to-face time with the BDL team at the conference and to be able to carve out some time to celebrate with them over drinks and dinner.
We can’t wait for NACS 2023 in Atlanta, GA. from October 3-6th. We hope to see you there!