By Keith Reid
CHICAGO—Leadership takes many forms. For Jared Scheeler, who has spent more than 30 years in the convenience industry, staying involved with NACS legislative activities and other convenience and fuel retailing advocacy groups is an important way for him help move the industry forward.
Scheeler is CEO of The Hub Convenience Stores Inc., a North Dakota-based upscale chain of six stores with a strong focus on foodservice and healthy food and snack options. It supplies Mobile-branded fuels.
At the 2021 NACS Show, Scheeler was named the 2021-22 NACS chairman, beginning his term Tuesday. As NACS chairman, Scheeler also leads the NACS Executive Committee, which provides strategic direction and financial oversight to NACS.
Scheeler succeeds Kevin Smartt, 2020-21 NACS chairman, who continues to serve on the NACS Executive Committee. Smartt is CEO of Texas Born (TXB).
Scheeler, previously NACS treasurer, has a long-running relationship with NACS.
Fuels Market News Magazine interviewed Scheeler in late 2020. The following is an excerpt.
FMN: How did you get involved with NACS?
Scheeler: I’ve been attending NACS shows since 2001. I became more involved around 2004 by talking to some senior leaders within the organization about the opportunity to share some of things that my company was doing that I felt were unique in the industry. And in 2009, I was fortunate enough to be asked to join the Member Services Committee. I joined the Board of Directors in 2010 and became treasurer in 2020. I’ve been heavily involved in government relations during this time, centered around NACS’ Day on the Hill event, which I’ve attended every year since 2009.
That’s really what got me going with government relations, being part of that process on Capitol Hill, walking through the halls of Congress, which, even 12 years later I still get chills. It’s a sacred space, even though we get so frustrated with the government so often. I also have become more involved with state and local politics.
FMN: What are some of the federal issues that impact your local business?
Scheeler: One thing that I think is relatively unique to North Dakota is the impact of the challenges facing the energy industry. We are in coal country, and that is an industry that has been vilified for the last 10 years. Losing that industry would be devastating to some of the communities where we do business. We’re also right in the heart of the Bakken Formation, and the fracking industry is under attack. And not only politically, but from the demand drop from the pandemic [and the short Russia/Saudi Oil price war]. That really scared the production industry.
And if that wasn’t enough, you have the issues with the Dakota Access Pipeline. The potential effect of that being shut down has scared the heck out of the producers in this area, and oil activity has gone down drastically even though the barrel price right now is pretty good.
FMN: What have been some of the major issues you have been involved with over the years?
Scheeler: The one that really jumps out to me are all the challenges we’ve had in the payments’ arena. When I first started advocacy work, swipe fees were front and center of everything that we talked about. It’s probably still one of the most important issues that we deal with on a day-to-day basis, and it needs more work. But, obviously, the environment on Capitol Hill has to be receptive to us working on that again.
Recently we have had liability, especially on the fuel side with the higher ethanol blends. Developing safety protocols and liability protections against misfueling for legacy vehicles—things like that. There is the point of obligation argument (changing the “position holders” for RINS under the Renewable Fuel Standard). This is a very testy argument among many members in our industry. Those are the two that stand out to me on the fuel side.
FMN: What advice would you give to somebody who’s interested in becoming more involved in the legislative process?
Scheeler: I think it’s easy to garner inspiration by attending a Washington, D.C., event like NACS Day on the Hill. Most of the other trade associations that are related to our industry have their own fly-ins as well. I think that helps you see the big picture with more clarity.
FMN: How important is local politics?
Scheeler: I am a strong believer that the things that really affect us in our lives are going to happen at the local level. We get so caught up in what’s going on in the nation’s capital and who’s going to be president and such—which are important—but at the end of the day the more direct impacts are going to happen closer to home with zoning commissions, city commissions, school boards and state legislatures. Get involved with those local governing bodies, develop relationships with them, familiarize yourself with the issues that are happening locally and then influence them the best way you can.
FMN: How do you start that process?
Scheeler: I believe that the most effective first step is by establishing a personal or professional relationship with elected officials, and not showing up as a stranger. It’s their job to listen to their constituents, but showing up as a stranger with no personal or professional connection makes it more challenging to get them to listen to you to the level that you would like.
Editor’s Note: This article is updated from the winter 2021 issue of Fuels Market News Magazine, a NACS Media entity.
Read the rest of FMN’s interview with Scheeler.