Andy Hermsmeier -  Niemann Foods Inc.

Founded in 1917, Niemann Foods (NFI) is an employee-owned, family-run company headquartered in Quincy, Illinois.  The company owns and operates over 100 supermarkets, pet, and hardware stores mostly under the County Market, County Market Express, Cub Foods, ACE Hardware, Pet Supplies Plus, Pick-A-Dilly and Save-A-Lot banners in Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri.  Their Save-A-Lot stores offer a limited assortment of groceries at discount prices, while Cub Foods and County Market are conventional grocery stores. The company is growing and expanding its market share in Central Illinois and Missouri.
Niemann Foods also owns and operates several convenience stores at many of their grocery stores, as well as stand-alone stores, located in the same markets.  CarterEnergy has been providing fuel to these stores for more than a year now.
We spoke with Andy Hermsmeier, Fuel Buyer and Logistics Manager for Niemann, about the company and its relationship with CarterEnergy.

When did you enter the C-Store business and what made you want to add C-Stores to your portfolio? 

We have been in the C-Store business for decades, but it became a major focus for us over the last 10 years.  Retail is part of our DNA. Convenience stores add an important element to serving our customers. A diverse portfolio of retail formats has helped NFI continue to grow.

What are some of the challenges you face with your business and what do you do to address them? 

Our biggest challenge is competing with some of the larger fuel retailers in our markets. We have to stay on top of our business to earn share.  Managing allocation is also a constant challenge, but our partnership with CarterEnergy makes this easier and more efficient. 

What key elements did you want implemented into your stores? 

For us, retail is all about customer service and sales.  We want to continue to grow a customer-focused sales culture in our stores and are starting a training program to teach that to all our employees. As for what makes us different, we have a strong knowledge of retail and food, along with a strong support team to implement plans.

How do you cross-market your grocery stores and C-Stores?  

We provide various Loyalty programs. One that is most popular rewards our supermarket customers with cents-off fuel promotions at our C-stores. 

Why CarterEnergy?

CarterEnergy gives us the tools to be successful.  They set us up with plentiful supply because of their size and the relationships they have built.  Carter’s size is big enough to handle supply with Niemann Foods, yet their customer service has that hometown, personal feel to it.

How does CarterEnergy help your business? 

Carter allows us to be successful by helping us maintain image requirements and communicate effectively.  Working with Carter has also increased our fuel margins.  Their customer service is superior.  Our Area Manager, Tyler Milligan, has been great to work with and continues to look out for the best interest of Niemann Foods.  Delinda Culbreth—and the entire Customer Experience team—is easy to work with.  Delinda answers any questions we have and keeps things very personable.

What are some possible future directions for your stores?

Niemann Foods will continue to evolve with the C-Store industry.  We have a very aggressive growth plan.  Prepared foods will continue to be our main theme with the changing C-Store customer.  We look forward to growing together with CarterEnergy in the future.