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The beginning of Pitstop,

When ExxonMobil Oil Corp.in 1997 decided to experiment with a new convenience store concept, the company asked Eddie Jawad, then owner of two Mobil Marts, to be one of the few to test it. With On The Run, Mobil introduced the motto "Fast, Fresh, Friendly," and from these words Jawad learned what
produced a successful convenience store.

After a year and a half, when it came time for Jawad to sign a standard 10-year franchise agreement for On The Run, he decided to go out on his own. After 12 years of running Mobil stores and service centers, Jawad realized it would be more profitable to create his own c-store concept — royalty-free.

"My experience with On The Run taught me one thing: that I wanted to bring bigger volume to our customers and to ourselves," explained Jawad, a 25-year convenience store industry veteran.

Creating his own c-store brand was not difficult for Jawad since he already owned the land and the buildings. And, after running Mobil stores for so many years, common sense told him he needed to somehow maintain the name in his new concept. Jawad informed Mobil that he wanted to name his stores Mobil Pit Stop, and the oil company gave him the go-ahead. After a several major changes to the On The Run layout, Jawad's Mobil Pit Stop saw a 10- to 15-percent increase in such categories as candy, coffee and beverages.

Today, Jawad, president of Grosse Pointe, Michigan.-based Pit Stop Convenience Stores Inc., owns nine Mobil Pit Stops and 2 oil shops throughout the state. "With a name like ExxonMobil, customers have high expectations," he said. "It forces us to maintain a certain standard."

But simply waving the Mobil flag doesn't mean Jawad can sit back and let the name work for him. "Today, everyone is selling gasoline. You have to modernize and stay up to date on things," he said. "It is important that you give your customers as much variety as possible and all with a clean and uniform look."

Feeding Customers' Appetites

Jawad knows what his customers want and it shows in the store's motto: "Fill up on your favorites — fast." Some Mobil Pit Stop stores offer Piccadilly Circus Pizza, which includes a breakfast and deli sandwich program, Each store also features Its owns Pitstop coffee program, complete with a self-serve island offering a variety of fresh-brewed coffee flavors and a cappuccino machine. One of the Pit Stop stores even has a post office inside and other store has a McDonald's . If all goes well with the fast feeder, Jawad will look into adding other big-names.

Jawad goes the extra mile for his customers. Stocking all the stores with a full product offering that includes grocery items, dairy products, produce, deli meats and over-the-counter medicines.

Average in-store sales (not including gasoline) reach $3,500 a day, or $110,000 to $115,000 a month per store. One Mobil Pit Stop brings in $150,000 a month in in-store sales. And, according to Jawad, Mobil Pit Stops' foodservice offerings bring in the highest profit margin of all categories, at 35 percent. The grocery category is in an unusual close second, at 32 percent.

Other amenities include seating areas and ATMs. Three of the service stations offer car washes, and two feature service bays called SpeedZone Lube, which offers oil changes.

"We want to offer a complete one-stop shopping experience for our customers," said Jawad. "We don't want them to go to Walgreen's or Wal-Mart or some other place like that."

In addition, all Mobil Pit Stop stores have scanning. Inventory, which is controlled by category, is conducted once a week, which helps identify theft. The monthly item counts also help maintain inventory better for the chain as a whole.

And that is important because the profitability of Mobil Pit Stop has yeilded Jawad buying power. The more stores he owns, the more he can buy for the stores and, therefore, the better the prices he negotiates with his wholesalers, he explained.

Location is a prime factor in Jawad's success. He chooses newly developed planned housing communities, where the local grocery store, pharmacy or car wash has yet to be built. It is in these neighborhoods, Jawad says he reaches what he calls the "True Blues" — mothers with kids who need to fill up on gas and get dinner for the evening. In addition he hopes to reach the "Road Warriors," those who need to have their car washed, oil checked and a fill-up before continuing on their road trip. And finally, he has his eye on the morning commuter for coffee and breakfast.

"Choosing these communities gives us the opportunity to be there first," he said. "When other operations come along, we already have developed a loyal customer base."

While the average store measures approximately 2,500 to 3,000 square feet, it is the most recently constructed site that Jawad hopes will set the standard for future Mobil Pit Stops. Previous stores only have six gas pumps, but the new 6,500-square-foot travel stop offers six dispensers in the front and four diesel pumps in the back. It also features all of the amenities that can be found in any of the other Mobil Pit Stops, such as Piccadilly Circus Pizza, grocery items, seating areas, ATMs, a car wash and service bays. This store will act as a prototype for future Mobil Pit Stops.

The new store sold only 85,000 gallons in its first month, compared to an average of 180,000 to 240,000 gallons per month for his other stores, but Jawad said that he expects that number to rise drastically. The travel stop also has the largest number of cooler doors of any of the stores, with 15 doors of cold or frozen items.

With the success of his nine stores in Michigan, Jawad plans to expand to other states, He has shipped new signs to Florida, marking his first step toward franchising his brand, which is part of the big picture. "In order for us to give it to others, we want to see how well they do [outside of Michigan] first," he said.

Macomb Township Chronicle (MI)

Local gas station doubles as post office
The BP on 23 Mile and Romeo Plank now offers postal retail services

ERIN MCCLARY C & G Staff Writer  
Published: December 18, 2008
MACOMB TOWNSHIP - Who ever heard of doing mailing out of a gas station? Beginning this month, several Macomb Township residents will become acquainted with the idea. The BP gas station at 23 Mile Road and Romeo Plank has converted a corner of its business to a branch of the U. S. Postal Service.

Mount Clemens Postmaster Donald Don-brow said the new postal retail shop at the popular intersection is not the first to be operated out of a gas station. In fact, there is one already established at another BP on the corner of Elizabeth and Groesbeck in Clinton Township - not too far from eastern Macomb Township's closest U.S. post office in Mount Clemens.

"(Residents) can do virtually all the things they can do when they walk into the post office," Dombrow said. "When you walk in … it kind of looks like a mini post office with signage, a scale and a computer."

The new retail shop will offer everything the post office does, from stamp sales to express mail, with the exception of passports and money orders.

Dombrow said there was a need for one in the area, and at what a better intersection than one of the township's most popular, 23 Mile and Romeo Plank, with its new bridge and widened thoroughfares.

A 2005 traffic study conducted by the Road Commission of Macomb County found that at least 20,000 drivers per day use 23 Mile from Hayes to east of Romeo Plank, and 17,800 use Romeo Plank from Hall Road (M-59) to 23 Mile.

"Twenty-three (Mile) and Romeo Plank is a main artery - it's very busy," he said. "You can draw from both southern and northern Macomb Township."

Before the BP postal retail shop opened in Macomb Township, residents could either make the commute to Shelby Township's post office or the one in Mount Clemens, or the postal retail shop at Canal and Garfield or the BP retail shop at Elizabeth and Groesbeck, both in neighboring Clinton Township.

"The one at 23 (Mile) and Romeo Plank provides great opportunity for our residents, so they don't have to make the commute to the post office," said Dombrow, whose jurisdiction includes Macomb and Harrison townships and Mount Clemens.

He said the U.S. Postal Service opens contract postal units (CPU), like the one at BP, in many communities to make services more convenient for residents.

 

Ed Jawad, the owner of the BP gas station on 23 Mile and Romeo Plank, has staffed the new postal counter with his own employees. He could not be reached for comment at press time, but his employee, Arafat Algahim, said business has definitely increased since the postal retail shop opened.

"A lot of people are coming in for Christmas stamps," he said.

"We've had a lot of people come in that haven't seen (a postal shop in a gas station) before."

The new postal service shop opened to the public the first week of December, with a grand opening Dec. 5.

Macomb Township residents Don and Ann MacArthur stopped in to use the facility Dec. 11, right around 4 p.m. - around the same time a U.S. postal carrier showed up to pick up any outgoing mail.

"This is wonderful," Ann MacArthur said. "This is our first time using it."

Macomb Township Clerk Michael Koehs said the township had no qualms about Jawad putting a postal shop inside his gas station, and in fact, invited the new business to Macomb Township.

Koehs said the zoning was perfect for a CPU.

"Obviously, it's another service to the community, so that's a good thing," he said. "For the people that live out that way, it's great."

The BP postal shop hours are from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday.

"This is definitely going to be a great thing for the community," Dombrow assured. "We needed something like this in Macomb Township."

You can reach Staff Writer Erin McClary at emcclary@candgnews.com or at (586) 279-1118.