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Saying Adios” to a veteran of the Western Convenience Stores Association.

by: Brenda Jane Johnstone

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Hailing from Punnichy, Saskatchewan, Doug, the oldest of six sons raised on and across the prairies, is best known for his take no prisoners mannerisms.

Following in his father’s footsteps, Doug joined the RCMP in the Ottawa office beginning January 1972 as a civilian member fingerprint technician, after which followed RCMP training in Regina a year later, followed by a transfer to British Columbia once training was completed. In 1997, after 13 years working as a hostage negotiator in the major crimes division of the RCMP, Doug retired as staff sergeant.

Following his retirement from the RCMP, Doug joined the Overwaitea Food Group (Jim Pattison group) with the loss prevention department. This was his first experience working in a retail environment. In 2003, he left Overwaitea to join Mac’s Convenience Stores in Calgary and helped develop the Mac’s Western Canadian security and loss prevention department.

 

“Frankly, I can’t believe he’s actually going to retire,” said Bonnie Birollo, vice president of operations, Mac’s Convenience Stores, Western Canada.

 

During the past 13 years in his role as manager of security, government and customer relations, Doug has certainly been an integral member of the team, notes Bonnie. He has supported three separate vice presidents, countless colleagues, dealers, staff, and customers throughout some often very tough and unique situations.

Despite the sometimes challenging confrontations or heated complaints, Doug always displayed a tremendous ability to diffuse scenarios of conflict all the while maintaining his composure and professionalism, said Bonnie.

“His efforts within the industry and his contributions within our Mac’s store network h  helped our group develop a proactive culture of safety and loss prevention,” said Bonnie. “Frankly, even more impressive is the fact he has also maintained his wicked sense of humour. He is honestly a rock in the foundation of our Mac’s/Circle K Western Canada team and he will most certainly be missed. Doug is all that… and a bag of chips!”

Doug is a say what you think, no holds barred kinda guy. “Doug is very logical, practical and thoughtful in his approach to both business and life,” said Woody Stelnicki, managing director, petroleum, Calgary Co-operatives Association Limited. As a member of the WCSA board, Woody noted that Doug is quick with a laugh.

Convenience & Carwash Canada spoke with Doug about his lengthy career and his plans for the future and impending retirement. When asked what he was most proud of during his time working at Mac’s, he stated: “I am proud that I have been instrumental in assisting our employees, our customers and especially our dealers with issues affecting them on a daily basis within the retail environments.”

Doug said that one memorable accomplishment was ensuring that a third option was instituted into the late night lone worker regulations with WorksafeBC, alongside Kim Trowbridge, a former WCSA chairman and former Mac’s Western Canada vice president of operations.

Here’s what Kim had to say: “Doug is a critical part of the team that turned Mac’s in Western Canada around; from being a c-store bottom feeder to a c-store leader and trendsetter. It is not an overstatement to say that without Doug, the western division of Mac’s would not have reached the heights it has reached. It is also not an overstatement to say that most will only truly understand what Doug did for the western division after his retirement date and the true size of the shoes to fill becomes apparent.”

Doug is singlehandedly responsible for introducing programs and procedures under the operations security umbrella that saved the western division millions of dollars during his tenure, said Kim.

“Aside from his professional and tireless work covering half the country’s geography as a security coach, auditor and investigator all on his own, he also became a de facto councilor and therapist for individuals in difficult or stressful situations,” said Kim. “He will be missed in the industry for his professionalism in the area of safety and security but also his considerable voice for the whole industry as the chair of the WCSA. With a schedule of travel and on-call work that would crush most people, Doug still found the energy to volunteer his time to the betterment of the industry as a whole. Hats off my friend, you have earned your retirement.”

Doug stated that he first became involved with WCSA as a board member in 2005 and then the CCSA board representing WCSA.

For the past 12 years, Doug has been involved with the WCSA and spent the last five years as chairman of the board. Working with a committed board, he helped set the stage for a progressive and interactive association whose mandate was and is that of supporting convenience, retail petroleum and carwash operators across Western Canada by offering lobbying efforts for everything from tobacco legislation and sugar free beverages to healthy stores and temporary foreign worker bills.

 

“The retail industry is fast paced and changes daily,” said Doug. “Regarding the future of the c-store industry, and considering the many challenging issues it is faced with, I am very optimistic.”

 

There is a lot of competition from both inside and out of the c-store industry for companies vying for the same dollar and with the ever-changing rules and regulations set forth by the government, both provincial and federal, the cause for frustration amongst retail chains is ever changing, he remarked.

“However, with the commitment and dedication of retailers, vendors and manufacturers, I’m confident that ours is an industry that will persevere and thrive,” said Doug. “I hope that my legacy is that I helped, at least in a small way, to make things easier on the people that actually do the heavy lifting in the industry. To be honest, I always saw my role as a fixer and I never forgot that the most important assets that I was protecting was our own people; those on the front line, the store managers and staff.”

The code that Doug lives by and his famous quote of “you can’t fix stupid” was the start and finish to each investigation, notes Sean Sportun, ICPS, manager, security and loss prevention, Circle K Convenience Stores Central Canada.

“I am outspoken because I am passionate about what I believe in and as most people know, I have never been the politically correct type of person,” stated Doug. “The expression ‘Doug, tell me what you really think’ seems to sum it up.”

When asked about his plans for retirement, Doug smiled, hugged his lovely wife Poona and stated that after 40 years of marriage he knows Poona is deserving of some travel and they plan on spending as much time as possible enjoying their five grandchildren. He knows slowing down will take some adjustment but he’s confident that he really won’t have any trouble figuring that out.

We wish you well Doug and Poona. You will be missed by the entire Western convenience store industry. Thank you for all you’ve done.

With more than 14 years working for Mac’s Convenience Stores Inc. Western Division as the manager of security and loss prevention, Western Canada, Doug Hartl is set to retire at the end of 2017.

 

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