ALEXANDRIA, Va. – On this week’s episode of Convenience Matters, “A Conversation with Scott Hartman of Rutter’s,” NACS hosts John Eichberger, executive director of the Fuels Institute, and Stephanie Sikorski, NACS vice president of marketing, chat with Scott Hartman, president and CEO of Rutter’s, about his company’s longevity in the convenience store industry and the future.
The Rutter family started out as Pennsylvania farmers in the 1700s, moving into the dairy business 98 years ago, then opening their first convenience store in 1968. This year, the family is celebrating a half century in convenience retailing. “I started in the convenience store at the age of 12, [and] it’s been quite a change from the original stores to what we have today, but that’s part of what makes [being in this industry] so much fun,” Hartman said.
A large part of Rutter’s success has been its ability to leverage technology to gain a competitive edge. The chain was the first to launch a mobile app a decade ago. Hartman consulted with Price Waterhouse before moving into the family business, and he translated much of what he learned about how technology could be applied to different aspects of a business into Rutter’s. “I realized we were really behind the curve and we really needed to figure out [how to tap into] all these devices that we have in our stores,” he said. “Today ... we’re probably in one of the most complex industries in the world, considering all the things we do under one roof … and it’s really just the tip of where things will go in how we’ll interact [with] … our customers.”
Hartman also sees value in observing what other convenience stores get right. “I’ve always embraced change … and what I’m really wanting to learn from them is how did they get their strengths, and then how does that translate back into our business in some way,” he said. To that end, he travels frequently to Europe, Asia and South America to take back ideas to incorporate into Rutter’s.
Rutter’s also has taken a long-term view of the future of fuel retailing. “We’ve been buying [more] larger lots than smaller lots [because] we anticipated we’d be providing different types of fuel for different vehicles, but we needed the land to be able to deploy the fuel strategies of the future,” Hartman said, a strategy that has paid off for the company.
Convenience Matters can be downloaded on iTunes, Google Play and other podcast apps, and at www.conveniencematters.com. The weekly podcast won four 2018 EXCEL Awards from Association Media & Publishing. Episodes have been downloaded by listeners more than 48,000 times in more than 95 countries.