Since opening its first Timewise Food Store location in 1983, Landmark Industries has successfully carved out a place for itself as a leading Texas c-store operator. From the original location in Hempstead, Texas, the company has expanded to 240 stores located in and around the Houston, San Antonio, Austin and Laredo marketplaces.
“We operate in a pretty diverse group of markets,” owner Marshall Dujka says. “As times have changed and our operations have become more of a snack-and-go, immediate consumption type of outlet for the customer, we’ve focused on building large locations with an open floor plan format so we can make changes easily.”
The company represents and sells Shell-, Chevron-, Exxon-, Texaco- and Valero-branded petroleum products, but it strives to be known for the Timewise Food Store brand and its fast and friendly service. The Timewise approach to success is to combine quality branded fuel, national branded in-store merchandise, clean stores and fresh products with a focus on customer service and competitive, fair prices.
For the first two decades of operations, the company followed a philosophy that focused on slow, controlled growth. However, the last few years have seen the major oil companies scrambling to exit the retail market and focus on maintaining fuel delivery operations. This is why Landmark got into an acquisitive mode and has accelerated the pace of its growth.
As the acquisitions began to come into the fold, the company found that it was finally able to put the Timewise name front and center at its establishments. In the past, the oil companies wanted only their branded gasoline logos in front of customers.
“We’ve looked for other branding opportunities with items like coffee cups, lighters and our own branded snacks and candies,” consultant Kevin Doody says. “That way, branding begins in the store and works its way out.”
Timewise stores don’t aim to be the lowest-priced option on the market, they aim to be the best value. The concept ensures the facilities are first class and overseen by a high-quality staff. From there, the product mix focuses on superior items and value prices.
“Our customers are less likely to be adversely affected by a weak economy,” Doody says. “All of our product is first-class quality at a value price. Our 2,000 employees understand our message and the Timewise way.”
Creating tight relationships with customers, employees and partners is among Landmark’s highest priorities. It goes to great lengths to build relationships with suppliers that are mutually beneficial.
For example, when the company’s biggest supplier lost Gatorade to Pepsi, Landmark Industries met with the vendor to review the forecast and business model. Timewise would now get Gatorade directly from Pepsi, but it wanted to adjust the merchandise it was bringing in from its biggest supplier to make up for their loss of Gatorade.
That also meant making adjustments to merchandise it was bringing in from other vendors. Instead of worrying only about itself, Landmark Industries worked closely with its partners to find solutions that worked for everyone.
“We wanted to be sure that everything was alright on the wholesale side, and that our other vendors all had alternative ways to create new margin from line extensions or new categories sold to our stores,” Doody says. “That yields rewards for all parties.”
At this point, Landmark and its Timewise brand are back to focusing on opening five to 10 new locations each year. The company’s major capital investments are focused on ground-up construction, as well as some raze and rebuilds.
“Some of our acquired locations have limited sales space, so we are rebuilding new 5,000-square-foot facilities,” Dujka says. “We are also upgrading pumps to the new Encore 700 dispensers and adding diesel. We regularly revisit our locations to be sure they are up to date with improvements made as needed.”
Dujka says Landmark and Timewise Food Stores will continue to focus on being the best value in the market through an overall package of a quality facilities, good customer service and fair prices.
There will be challenges to overcome, such as the impact that federal tax and healthcare policies and regulations will have on the bottom line. But Dujka thinks the future remains bright for the company. It will deal with challenges while it continues to promote the Timewise brand and philosophy.
“Our focus will be on continually refining our employee base and developing our approach to customer service,” Dujka says. “We have people who are great at building facilities and finding good real estate, and it is critical that we have great people out there serving the customers.”