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Industry Executives Launch National Business Catalyst Firm,
Business Accelerator Team

Firm exists to help suppliers succeed more quickly & provide operators with tools and services, which positively influence their business and the overall industry

(Scottsdale, Arizona –July 27, 2015) Kay Segal, founder of Segal Insights; Paul Reuter, founder of Kreative Collaborations & Midwest Retail Group; and David Nelson, PhD, founder of Finance & Resource Management Consultants (Study Groups) have joined together to create Business Accelerator Team (BATeam), an advisory and business catalyst firm.

These partners of the BATeam are nationally known for positively influencing the retail, retail petroleum and foodservice industries. With extensive experience in retail, retail petroleum, foodservice, business media and industry analytics, the BATeam will provide information, education, market strategy and market analysis, as well as key connections within the industry.

“Business Accelerator Team combines the expertise of three industry professionals with extensive and varied knowledge,” Segal said. “Paul, David and I cannot be more excited about this combined new venture, built upon the desire to collaborate – with each other and with clients.”

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With an extensive background in foodservice and retailing with Sky Chefs, 7-Eleven and Circle K, among others, Segal moved into the media space 20 years ago and spearheaded the development of industry education for CSP Information Group, setting new standards. In May 2015, Segal launched Segal Insights, a consulting firm. Segal Insights will now fold into BATeam, bringing current clients to the larger firm.

Segal, Reuter and Nelson are senior partners, and Segal will carry the additional title of managing executive.

“I have known Kay and David for numerous years,” Reuter said. “Their combined expertise, insight and integrity will help us accelerate supplier and retailer business, positively impacting the industry.”

Reuter brings nearly five decades of industry experience as an entrepreneur, journalist, editorial director, speaker and collaborator, resulting in an extensive network in the business community. In July 2012, Reuter, the founder and CEO of CSP Information Group, sold the business to CSP Business Media, now Winsight. During the past three years, he has launched two businesses, including Midwest Retail Group, the largest U.S. 7-Eleven franchise. He also has provided his consulting expertise to many industries and serves as a Senior Advisor to NRC Realty & Capital Advisors on M&A transactions.

Nelson has been a university professor of economics and finance for more than 40 years and has taught in the U.S., Japan, and Mexico. He has been selected as a Distinguished Teaching Fellow and as MBA Professor of the Year. Nelson is the Founder and President of Finance & Resource Management Consultants, Inc., a firm that provides facilitation and financial benchmarking services for Study Groups. Today, Study Groups includes more than 250 companies and 450 executives from throughout the U.S. He has a keen understanding of economic trends, coupled with extensive insight related to industry financial analysis, and is a frequent speaker at industry events.

“Our team is focused on helping others succeed,” Nelson said. “I am thrilled to be working closely with Kay and Paul, two visionaries in the market space.”

About Business Accelerator Team

Arizona-based catalyst firm Business Accelerator Team (BATeam) helps business leaders forge new paths with “outside-in,” thought leadership. With independent vision and opinions steeped in first-hand experience, analysis and strategic growth planning, Business Accelerator Team is a strong virtual asset to an organization with more than 100 combined years of experience.

For more information, email kay@thebateam.com.

Living a Grateful, Balanced Life

Paul Reuter

Paul Reuter

By Paul Reuter | Published in CSP Magazine, August 2015
Last month marked the third anniversary of my selling CSP Information Group. Time seems to fly when you start collecting Social Security checks and become eligible for AARP senior discounts. Candidly, I feel younger and more energized today than I can recall. (OK, my annual Mayo Clinic visit does bring me back to reality).

Mitch Morrison asked if I would write about what I’ve been doing since I turned over the reins to Mike Wood Jr. Although I always enjoyed writing my monthly CSP column, putting my name onto hundreds of words that would be judged by about 200,000 readers added stress to my life. But it made me ask, “What value can I offer?”

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In the past 36 months, I have traveled to South America and Spain, including a 500-mile walk of the Camino de Santiago. I have crossed America in an RV. I started two new businesses, including one with Jim Fiene; we have 16 7-Eleven franchises in Wisconsin. The other, Business Accelerator Team, just began with industry veterans David Nelson and Kay Segal. We share the same goal: to accelerate knowledge growth and thus business growth.

I also spent two years involved with a personal growth organization, gaining a new appreciation for love and life. I have spent quality time with my love and my family, including my eight grandchildren, lost 8 pounds and ran a few marathons.

I am, in an understatement, not one to let time pass by me.

Time is a gift, and this new stage of life has allowed me to expand my pursuits, observations and knowledge. So what have I learned that might be of value to you? In a word: balance. Categorize your life under four headings: emotional, mental, spiritual and physical. Of course there are concrete daily metrics such as financials, career and goals, but I suggest putting those details under one of my big four categories.

Words to Live By

We live most of our lives off-balance. Too often, we disregard our physical health, our spiritual callings and our family time. And you could say I have not always lived as I now preach. That’s why I’m sharing my observations. That said, work isn’t necessarily a necessity. It can and, ideally, should represent a part of who you are, as well as a source of passion and creativity.

For one, identify mentors in your life. I suggest three, but any number you deem best works too. It is important to have people you respect who are open with their wisdom and counsel. One of my most important mentors is Drayton McLane, a man who doesn’t know the word “quit.”

I confess that some of the ideas I present to you are taken from Drayton. I still reflect on what he told me 20 years ago when we became partners. “Paul, there are only three things we need to do in business: Don’t break the law, do not compromise your values and integrity, and make a profit,” he said.

Another saying I have found particularly meaningful: “When you rest, you rust.” I translated that message into my day-to-day goal setting. Keep life in balance, but realize that life also offers many new and wonderful things to do and explore.

When people ask me what they should do in business or with their lives, I respond with a question: What are you passionate about? Follow that passion.

Another important quote comes from my beloved friend Bill Douglass: “It takes a village.” Personal success is generated in large part from the quality of those you associate with. Don’t live life in a vacuum. Appreciate the role you can play for others and what others can—and have—played for you.

Finally, “You’re never too old to be what you want to be.” For many, who we want to be will evolve over time. Drayton spins this a bit differently: “When you are comfortable, you are not growing. Move out of your comfort zone.” I did, not easily, but hey, no pain, no gain.

The best leaders put people ahead of balance sheets. I have been consulting with NRC Realty Corp. on some M&A deals. The common concern I’ve found from owners is not only about money—it’s very much about what will happen to the people, the team they care about, once the business is sold.

Final Thoughts

Above all else, I would offer you two other powerful words: forgiveness and gratitude. One does not have to be a Catholic to agree that Pope Francis is having a profound influence. He has committed the church to an ethos of mercy and compassion and has published nearly 10,000 words on these essential values.

Having a bad day? Stress is too great? Instead of taking drugs or throwing a tantrum, get out a piece of paper and a pen, and let gratitude flow. I guarantee the list will overwhelm whatever troubles you. Keep that sheet and look back on it.

I acknowledge that for me, work is part of my balanced life. I like innovating, building, mentoring and being a part of success. Retirement from one career should be a springboard for a new round of excitement and growth.

I’d love to hear what’s inspiring you. You can find me at paulreuter@thebateam.com

Executive Interview: David M. Nelson

Interviewed by Denny Rubin | Published in NRC Newsletter, Summer 2015

David Nelson

David Nelson

Denny Ruben: What do you see happening in the economy near term?

David Nelson: We have now entered the seventh year of economic recovery and are now already beyond the average length of post-WWII economic expansions. Still, I believe the economy has room to grow as we see solid gains in employment and consumer spending, strong demand for autos and light vehicles, and home building and prices on a rebound. While lower energy prices have on balance been a positive for the U.S. economy, the Energy Belt is seeing lower investment and employment. Manufacturing which supports the energy industry like steel production has been hurt and a strong dollar is making it difficult for U.S. manufacturers to compete in a global marketplace.

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Ruben: What is the Fed going to do?

Nelson: They are going to raise interest rates, but the question is when and by how much. As recently as March, most market forecasters thought that the first rate increase would be in June, but now the earliest expected first move is in September and an increasing number think it may be delayed beyond then. Long term we can’t have interest rates that are negative in real terms so the Fed does need to begin normalizing rates as soon as they think the economy is able to handle it. Given the very low current rate of inflation and global uncertainties, interest rates are likely to rise slowly and remain low relative to historical norms for the foreseeable future.

Ruben: Do you believe the challenges in the Chinese marketplace, coupled with the challenges for the European Union from the Greek crisis could alter the anticipated Fed move?

Nelson: The Fed will make its monetary policy decisions on the basis of the strength of the U.S. economy. China’s growth slowdown is part of the normal process of a maturing economy. The financial situation in Greece is very serious and the possibility of a Greek exit from the Euro is looming larger; however, the direct exposure of foreign investors from this crisis is limited. While a worst-case scenario of a Greek exit from the Euro leading to sizable financial and economic impacts on the global economy cannot be ruled out, it remains unlikely.

Ruben: With the lower gas prices, are consumers actually spending their gas savings?

Nelson: They are, but it took a while to get there. As motor fuel prices fell last fall, initially there was a jump in the personal savings rate and retail sales actually fell. Part of the decline in retail sales was attributable to the fact that consumers were spending less on fuels. Once consumers began to sense that the energy savings were more than a short-term, transitory shock they began to adjust their spending upward. By May 2015, retail sales (excluding gas) were up 3.5% year over year. Among the top 10 consumer spending categories, c-stores have the opportunity to capture a share of this increased spending in three categories – food and beverage, food services, and energy goods and services.

Ruben: Have lower gas prices and a revived economy done anything to reverse the decline in vehicle miles traveled?

Nelson: Absolutely. The Federal Highway Administration recently released April miles-driven figures that show a 12-month moving average of 3.076 trillion miles, which is a new record high and reverses what had been a 6-year decline. Year-over-year miles driven have increased 3.9%.

Ruben: What’s happened to the demand for gasoline?

Nelson: More miles driven has won out in the short run over improved fleet efficiency resulting in a 4% year-over-year gain in gasoline consumption according to the Energy Information Administration. Consumers have also changed the mix of new vehicles they are buying from 45% trucks and SUVs at the 2008 oil price peak to 55% truck and SUVS more recently.

Ruben: What’s happening to spending inside the store?

Nelson: Spending inside the store is on an upswing as well with year-over-year gains in c-store merchandise sales up 4.0% per retail location for the 12 months ending in April 2015. Considering that the rate of inflation has been essentially flat during this period of time means that these are real sales gains. Categories showing strong growth are packaged beverages, food service, salty and sweet snacks, frozen food, edible and perishable grocery, and health and beauty care.

Ruben: What are you seeing for motor fuel demand?

Nelson: From my work with Study Groups of petroleum marketing firms who operate convenience stores, it is definitely on an upswing. Using a same-firm sample of 88 companies operating almost 5,000 c-stores shows year-over-year increases of 2.2% in motor fuel gallons sold per retail location for the 12 months ending in April. Comparing the monthly change from April 2014 to April 2015 shows an even more substantial 3.3% increase.

Ruben: Can you explain a bit more about Study Groups?

Nelson: Sure. Study Groups provide a mechanism for a group of non-competing marketers to get together two to three times per year to exchange experiences, solutions and ideas to improve their businesses. On a monthly basis, members receive comparative financial and operational data to benchmark their performance against others in the group and against broader averages. The overall objective of a Study Group is to help members improve the performance of their businesses. Study Groups just celebrated its 30th anniversary. Almost 200 of our study group community celebrated the occasion with facilitators, support team members, study group members and friends getting together for a Seminar at Sea in the Western Mediterranean. Our website www.studygroups.com provides additional information or we can be emailed at info@studygroups.com.

Ruben: Are there Study Groups for different types of businesses?

Nelson: Yes, there are 46 separate groups representing a number of different business lines including full line jobber, wholesale (three types: commercial, dealers and convenience merchandise), lubricants and propane. We also have groups focused on specific functional areas such as food service, information technology, fuel management, operations management, next generation and CFO. Members of groups range from owner/CEOs to senior management responsible for functional areas in which we have a group offering.

Ruben: We understand that you have recently partnered with Kay Segal and Paul Reuter to form a new venture – the Business Accelerator Team. What is this all about?

Nelson: I am honored to have been invited by industry veterans Kay Segal and Paul Reuter to be on the BATeam. BATeam was formed to help companies succeed more quickly by providing insight, strategy, tools and consulting services to both suppliers and retailers. Today’s market place is extremely competitive. Within any competitive space, gaining traction and accelerating growth can be the determination of financial viability and long-term success. BATeam is a business catalyst firm focused on helping others reach their goals more quickly.

Ruben: How does the BATeam differ from Study Groups?

Nelson: Study Groups is focused on financial and operational benchmarking and on peer-to-peer sharing and learning. We see the BATeam filling a different void for knowledge, education, insight and consulting services to assist retailers and suppliers accelerate their growth. For more information, contact kay@thebateam.com and visit our website at www.businessacceleratorteam.com.

Contact

Business Accelerator Team
Scottsdale, AZ
602-690-8501
kay@thebateam.com