How Our Partnership Has Helped Cumberland Farms, and its Parent Company, EG America, Deliver the Most Convenient Customer Experience One Project at a Time
In 1939, the Haseotes family took a dream and a single cow and made it into a business model that was able to provide the best possible dairy products for the best possible price. Soon, the family saw the need to diversify their offerings from just dairy to include highly sought-after convenience items that customers so desperately needed. By 1962, the Cumberland Farms brand had expanded to become the first true convenience store in New England.
Fast forward to 2013, when our story began with Cumberland Farms. As the legend goes, it was a cold, snowy New England day when former principal Lou Allevato (then of Allevato Architects) received a call from Vice President of Construction and Planning, Francis Sheflin. Fran remembered working with Lou on a project many years earlier that had some contentious permitting and design issues that Lou was able to successfully navigate to keep the project moving forward. While most offices were closed that day due to the snow, Fran was surprised that Lou answered, and they were able to quickly rekindle their working relationship. The rest, they say, is history.
Helping to Deliver the Most Convenient Customer Experience One Store at a Time
When HFA acquired Allevato Architects in 2016, few foundational things changed within our relationship with our client, but there were some updates we knew we could make to ensure Cumberland Farms continued to receive the best service possible. One huge development that helped propel our work forward was incorporating the HFA engineering team to the Cumberland Farms support system. Up until that time, all the S/MEP engineering work was outsourced to a third-party vendor. By bringing this work internal, we were able to dictate how the MEP and structural engineering needs were filled. Plus, we were able to work even more cohesively together as a team since we were all working within the same systems and software.
“Initially the plan was to slowly bring HFA’s MEP team on board, but when the Boston studio started experiencing some day-to-day challenges, we were asked to jump onto a moving train. As we sat in the conference room with the client for the first time, it was clear they had reservations, so all eyes were on us to prove our value quickly,” said Brent Tweedy, MEP Program Lead.
After successfully navigating our client’s new construction work over the first few years of our relationship, our team was asked to take over the remodel program as well. From day one, we have developed a dedicated team to support this one client, and it has paid off. It has developed our technical expertise on c-store design and construction and has also allowed us to mirror our team’s structure with the client’s needs, and most importantly, thinking like the client with all design decisions our team makes.
“Learning to think like the client is critical—being able to respond to design challenges knowing what they would prefer helps eliminate excessive back-and-forth before landing on a solution. This is not to say that our technical expertise does not play a part, either—we are able to merge our knowledge with our client's perspective to bring about the best possible design solution,” said Meghan Vincent, AIA, NCARB, Team Lead/Architect.
Another unique aspect that informs the kind of relationship we have cultivated with Cumberland Farms is the trust and true partnership we have built with our Cumberland Farms counterparts. While timeliness of deliverables and drawing quality will always be at the top of our list of priorities as a company, constant, open communication has led us to be thought of as a trusted partner—to the point that our team has been invited to attend the Cumberland Farms End of Year Meetings in the past, an honor traditionally reserved for their operations vendors and store personnel. This experience allowed us not only a seat at the table, but also the unique ability to hear from former Cumberland Farms CEO, Ari Haseotes, about his visions for the future, which went a long way in informing our day-to-day design work.
Changing The Way We Work Together
In October 2019, EG America, one of the fastest growing convenience store retailers in the U.S., acquired Cumberland Farms as part of its family of stores. What drew EG America to a family-owned company like Cumberland Farms was the success they had had in the past in expanding their footprint in the New England, New York, and Florida markets while still maintaining a strong, highly loyal customer following – as well as their store design. Our team was integral to that success. Cumberland Farms joins other EG America banners like Turkey Hill, Kwik Shop, Minit Mart, Fastrac, Certified Oil, Loaf N’Jug, Tom Thumb, and Quik Stop to round out EG America’s fleet of convenience store locations from coast to coast.
As we begin to ramp up our work with other banners above and beyond Cumberland Farms, our team continues to work closely with the EG America team to make sure that the standards of brand and design quality that Cumberland Farms and now EG America has come to expect are upheld – and exceeded in the future.
Looking Ahead to the Future
As we continue to work together with both EG America and the other architecture firms of record that support them, we are constantly striving to improve our deliverable methods to better serve our clients. Outside of our typical site adapt and remodel work, our team is continually looking for ways to help move the EG America team forward in terms of prototype building and maintenance, which will not only allow them to cut down on costs and production timelines but will also enable them to better meet the yearly production goals they are working towards establishing in the future. Our primary job is to help the EG America team compound the success they’ve had thus far, and to streamline their growth by taking the success of Cumberland Farms and translating it to the other banners as well. That all starts and ends with continuing to cultivate the relationships our team has fostered during our time supporting Cumberland Farms, and now EG America. Without them, we wouldn’t have the success we’ve seen for both our client and ourselves.
“HFA's ability to develop strong personal and professional relationships with many of the EG America team has led to a better understanding of their challenges and has made HFA a stronger partner. These relationships do not develop overnight, but evolve from weeks, months, and sometimes years of open communication and trust,” said James Owens, AIA, NCARB, Vice President at HFA.
Currently, the EG America team is completing approximately 20 store projects per year, but they have a goal of 50 stores per year across all banners soon. To help them achieve that goal, we will continue to work closely together on innovating and streamlining the site-adapt process, something we’re leaning into now and excited to continue building on in the future.
To learn more about our work with EG America, feel free to contact James Owens, Vice President, Meghan Vincent, Team Lead/Architect or Brent Tweedy, MEP Program Lead. You can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org.