Thanks for the LIFT

A lighting, image and facilities transformation revs up sales at one Wisconsin c-store.

March 08, 2022

Cenex Convenience Store

By Jerry Soverinsky

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Less than six months into a global pandemic, most companies holding their collective breath, trying to stay afloat at a time when consumer spending was plunging and unemployment soaring, Kyle Knutson assessed conditions at his rural Wisconsin convenience store, double-checked his math and decided that the time was right ... to build a new store.

The decision was an easy one for the c-store veteran and CEO of Synergy Cooperative, whose quarter century of industry experience told him that while the timing to commit to a multimillion-dollar project may have been imperfect, renewing his lease at an aging store at which the state mandated that he comply with upgrades was even less palatable.

“We studied the investment as well as other competitive changes that were happening in our community and decided that a rebuild would position us best for the future,” he said.

With a history dating back more than 50 years in Cumberland, Wisconsin, Synergy Coop has carved out a sizable following as a local gathering place for the town’s 2,200 residents, one whose cooperative legal structure conveyed ownership status to its members. It’s also a popular stop for vacationers seeking outdoor adventure among the area’s hundreds of lakes.

To provide maximum value for his investment, Knutson decided that the rebuild would need to cater to both locals—“we have farmers that stop by regularly”—as well as vacationers. “We felt that anything we could do to benefit the store would benefit the entire community,” he said.

Knutson performed his due diligence and settled on a partner for his rebuild: Cenex.

Learn more about Knutson’s decision to upgrade, how he changed the interior and exterior of his store and why he decided to go with Cenex’s LIFT program in the March issue of NACS Magazine.

Jerry Soverinsky is a Chicago-based freelance writer and NACS Magazine contributing writer.