The Co-Op group of companies has added more assets to their fuel station collection. The Husky gas bar and convenience store in Quesnel will soon be renovated to wear a new Co-Op outfit. The conversion will begin in about a month.
The site will be closed for a week before re-opening with a new look, feel, and company structure. It is the latest in a set of 10 such sites that Co-Op has purchased for conversion. Kitimat, Terrace and Burns Lake are already swapped over, each with a one-week closure to do the work.
“The sites look fantastic. I might be biased, here, I’ve been involved in Co-Op for 32 years, and it’s lovely to see that red shield go up, the signs, the canopies, the inside and outside updates, it just looks fantastic,” said Allan Bieganski, general manager at Four Rivers Co-Op in Vanderhoof where this branch of the commercial association is based.
The conversion process requires paint, decals, graphics, bathroom upgrades, and a full update of the fuel dispensers. Behind the scenes there are some changes in how the purchasing and inventorying is done, and the way the accounting is done, but it is a quick and generally seemless switchover.
Bieganski said the process was helped greatly by the large proportion of management and staff that have been retained at each location.
Co-Op aleady had a pair of regular public fuel stations (Vanderhoof and Prince George), plus a network of 15 commercial cardlock fuel locations, so they had a strong working knowledge of the industry, but as part of this acquisition, they added a pair of staff positions – a gas bar division manager and a project and facilities manager – specifically as part of this growth.
“That has been so key to the transition from Husky to Co-Op,” Bieganski said. “We’ve never had this opporunity, the first time our division has gotten in on so many sites at the same time. Normally we are building a site here, or buying a site there. This is our first transaction this large.”
Anyone can buy fuel and other items at any of these Co-Op locations, but there are 35,000 Co-Op members across the north-central region of the province, and for them there are additional perks. Bieganski said that membership doesn’t apply to any of the locations that still have the Husky facade, but the three already converted will now be able to process membership numbers for those linked customers.
“We are planning three clusters of grand openings, each one being four weeks in duration,” said Bieganski.
Terrace, Kitimat and Burns Lake comprise one cluster. The three in Prince George plus the Quesnel location will have their own grand opening festivities as a unit. The two Williams Lake and one 100 Mile House locations will have a different grand opening period together.
Each cluster’s grand opening month will have unique features like giveaways, prizes and other specials.
“We have worked hard to have door prizes unique to those communities,” such as a dinner and wine tasting for four at Northern Lights Estate Winery, for the Prince George-Quesnel cluster.
The fuel at each location comes from a variety of sources. The Tidewater refinery in Prince George makes most of the gasoline the stations will sell, while the association’s own Federated Co-Op refinery in Regina trains in most of the diesel. Other suppliers are also involved.
The Quesnel conversion will begin after the three weeks needed to convert Prince George, plus a week off. The rest of the Cariboo will get their conversions in the successive one-week increments after that.