ADD Systems attended the annual SIGMA Conference in San Francisco this month. The Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America was celebrating their 60th anniversary as a national trade association that works to “further the interests of both the branded and unbranded segment of the industry while providing information and services to members.” The conference brought together a record number of attendees, offered excellent general and educational sessions, and afforded plenty of time for networking.
Here are just a handful of important topics covered at the event.
Use data to hit your target
The opening session was given by Billy Beane, the Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations for the Oakland A’s. His story is outside the petroleum industry, but remarkably on target for this audience. Billy is the subject of both the book and the movie, Moneyball, in which he ignored major league baseball’s traditional methods of selecting a team and, instead, successfully used statistical analysis to make his choices. The message here for our industry was clear – don’t do things by gut feel; listen to your data. Statistics tell the true story, and, if you listen, there are profits to be made. (And with the continuous development of Atlas Reporting®, ADD’s business intelligence product, we couldn’t agree more!)
Take advantage of disruptions
There were also some industry specific sessions, like The World of Fuel. This session was a view of the current and future industry landscape, including things like electric vehicles, ride sharing, autonomous vehicles, and on-demand mobile fueling. Moderator, Amanda Appelbaum from the Fuels Institute, spoke with panelists, Douglas Haugh of Parkland Fuels USA and John Eichberger of the Fuels Institute, about their predictions and reaction to these disruptions. Recurring advice was to take advantage of the opportunities presented, whether that be installing charging stations at your c-stores or offering your customers on-demand mobile fueling. Douglas shared that, “you always win by giving your customers what they want.”
Keep trying new things
Another recurring message at the conference – “Fail fast. Learn faster.” The industry is being bombarded with change, disruption and an unclear future, and the advice was to not sit still. Try new things and make changes. In other words, run the risk of failing, but fail quickly, and then learn from it and try something else.
Analyze your data to help predict the future
There was so much more useful advice at the conference. During The Future of Powertrains and Fuels, Jim Anderson of Ford Motor Company and Craig Scott of Toyota Motors North America shared the perspective of large vehicle manufacturers on the future of their industry. David Nelson, Professor of Economics at Western Washington University and Founder and CEO of Finance & Resource Management Consultants, Inc., also gave an enlightening talk on U.S. Economic Performance and Petroleum Marketer Profitability. His presentation was a perfect example of using data to help recognize trends and make decisions about the future.
The conference clearly pointed out that there are many important decisions to be made by businesses in the near future, but the meeting made one particular point loud and clear – you are not in this alone. As a SIGMA member, you have a whole network of SIGMA members to go to for advice and support.
We hope to see you at the 2019 SIGMA Conferences!