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Agrimarketing : May 2009 Supplement
12 AG BIZ Cenex Brand Revised:16 Thinking Outside Box 5/4/09 2:49 PM Page 12 2009 NAMA AGRIBUSINESS LEADER OF THE YEAR EXPANDEDPRESENCEANDPROMOTION BUILDCENEXBRAND T he peoplewho install bright red-and-white pole signs and Cenex canopies are busywork- ers these days. Last year 135 sites joined the Cenex retail family,which spans across 22 states.At the same time, hundreds of existing Cenex convenience stores received image makeoverswith brighter colors, inviting lighting, digital signage and amoremodern look. All this transformation is part of a strategic, long-termeffort by CHS to build Cenex into a powerhouse brand and an indispensable part of everyday life. Surprisingly, the Cenex conve- nience store chain got its humble startmore than 20 years ago as a solution to a refinery challenge. The company’s strong agricultural customer base purchased high volumes of diesel fuel but did notmarketmuch gasoline. Because CHS got roughly two gallons of gasoline for every gallon of diesel produced by its refineries, it needed to develop a channel for its gasoline. “At the time that I joined CHS, themodel of full-serve/self-serve gas stationswasn’t serving themarketplacewell, and the concept of convenience storeswith fuel brands was emerging,” recallsDonOlson, Sr VP, Refined Fuels, CHS. “Under LeonWestbrock’s leadership,we brought the c-store idea to our customers to diversify and add urban end-users and profit centers. “Our retail operation started with 400 sites,mostly one-hose Executive Vice President & COO, Energy at CHS 12 Agri Marketing s May 2009 pumps next to feedmills. Todaywe have 1,600 Cenex branded locations, ofwhich 1,000 are convenience stores—and they’re the kind of stores anyone can be proud to operate.” UNBEATABLE RETAIL OFFERING For co-ops thatwant to get into the retail business to expand their customer base, and for a growing number of independent operators, CHS provides all the tools for retail success, fromsite selection andmarketing advice to riskmanagement and buying services. “Thanks to Leon’s vision and sup- port,we have better retail consultants and better training than themajor oil companies.And our branding is as good as any out here,” believesOlson. SPIFFING UP AN IMAGE As a regional brand, the Cenex brand has neither the budget nor the exposure to compete easilywith BP, ExxonMobil and Chevron. Research showed consumers had little awareness of the Cenex brand andmisperceptions about the scope of products marketed under the brand, and independent convenience store owners