Cargas Customer Success Story

Founded in 1948, CN Brown Company is a full-service energy provider specializing in electricity, heating fuels, gasoline, diesel, wood pellets, and natural gas. Proudly operating 76 Big Apple convenience stores, 26 heating oil offices, 11 service stations, and more than 100 gasoline dealers, this family-owned company serves more than 65,000 customers across four states, including residential, wholesale, and commercial accounts. Based in South Paris, Maine, CN Brown has positioned itself as a major player in the competitive petroleum market throughout Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts.

CN Brown strives for customer loyalty and continued growth in a competitive market, so they believe in investing in the right tools for success.

Manual Mayhem

CN Brown last invested in a back-office software solution 20-some years ago, and while the system had served them well, it was quickly becoming out of date and had some functionality gaps that required extra effort from the CN Brown team to fill.

Two areas where CN Brown noticed the software’s limitations the most were truck routing and reporting. Their legacy system had no comprehensive routing capabilities, so much of the process was done manually. Routes were assigned to each customer. Tickets were generated and printed weekly, with the customer zone printed on each ticket. The office team manually sorted the tickets according to zone and then into daily routes for the drivers, but the drivers often re-sorted the tickets to optimize the routes according to their needs.

“They probably spent a good half day on creating [the routes] and then they spent probably an hour every morning before getting the trucks on the road,” explained Lori Smallwood, Administrative Office Manager. “It was a lot of manual work. After the deliveries were completed each day, they had to be keyed manually into the customer accounts. There was a lot of time that went into the paperwork.”

When it came to reporting, the CN Brown team knew their software housed all the data they needed, but getting information out of the system was challenging. Because the software lacked reporting capabilities, a programmer needed to manually pull the desired information from the software’s underlying database.

CN Brown realized the limitations of their software were quickly becoming limitations on their business as a whole.

“I think it kept the managers from trying to grow and obtain new customers,” said Smallwood. “And I think that the lack of the routing caused us to not deliver efficiently, and we couldn’t even take on new customers in harsher than normal Maine winters because we couldn’t make enough deliveries in a day.”

A Solution to Support Growth

 CN Brown sought a more modern piece of technology that would fit their current needs and also support future growth. It was important that the new solution be user-friendly and intuitive with robust routing capabilities. For better customer service and business insight, CN Brown wanted easy access to data within the system, as well as quick and simple reporting functionality.

With the future in mind, CN Brown began exploring their options for a new back-office solution. A round of research and demonstrations brought three applications to the forefront, including Cargas Energy.  CN Brown liked Cargas Energy’s capabilities and functionality, and they liked even more that it was recommended by several partner vendors, as well as existing Cargas Energy customers. There were also benefits that went beyond the software.

“We were impressed with the online training program and the documentation,” said Jeannine Doucette, IT Assistant Manager and Project Manager.

In the end, the final decision was easy.

“It was pretty much unanimous, I believe, when we decided,” said Smallwood. “We felt it was really the most cutting-edge technology.”

 Taking The Plunge

While CN Brown was excited by the possibilities of their chosen solution, they were not without reservations about the implementation process. The implementation of their legacy heating oil software took a year to complete and a recent conversion of their Wholesale/Transport system took two years to complete. With their Cargas Energy go-live date scheduled for June, they were dreading the impact of such a drastic change on their busy winter season. With this implementation, it was the partnership with the Cargas team that made all the difference.

“I think they really changed our perspective on a new conversion because they’re so laid back and were always there to help us. We trained as we went along, and it was just awesome,” said Kris Cannell, Accounts Receivable Manager.

“They just came in and managed it and kept us on task,” added Smallwood. “And we felt confident in them and here we are, it was successful. And the ongoing support is great.”

Doucette added that Cargas made managing the conversion easier than she expected.

 Total Transformation

“Totally different” is the way the CN Brown team describes their experience with Cargas Energy versus their legacy software.

With Cargas Energy’s reporting capabilities, now anyone in the company can run a report or write a query and have instant access to information rather than relying on a programmer to compile it from the software’s database.

The software has also helped CN Brown provide a better experience for their customers. For customer service reps, customer information is available from one screen within Cargas Energy, allowing them easy access to account information without having to search through layers of screens as with their legacy software.

“Another key thing is the delivery tickets are already priced and printed and legible,” said Cannell. “Whereas before our drivers were hand writing pricing, and they had to know each specific customer’s terms. This has been a big timesaver for the drivers and improved the accuracy and look of the delivery tickets.”

But the biggest change has come from Cargas Energy’s routing capabilities, which have enhanced CN Brown’s growth potential by improving delivery efficiency. With Cargas Energy optimizing delivery routes and delivery forecasting, as well as allowing for real-time changes and updates, CN Brown’s drivers have increased their daily average of deliveries. In their first heating oil season with Cargas Energy, C. N. Brown delivered 5% more gallons in 2% fewer driver hours and 3% fewer truck miles. There was a 2% increase in deliveries per hour and an 8% increase in deliveries per mile.

“It is proven that we are delivering more efficiently for sure,” said Smallwood.

By improving delivery efficiency, CN Brown has opened the door to growing their customer base and their company successfully. With the right technology in place, and the support of a great partner, CN Brown is ready to take on the future.

FREE Car Wash for Veterans & Military Service Customers

 

CN Brown Company provided 94 FREE Car Washes to Veterans and Military Service Men & Woman  on Saturday, November 11th.  Our company has proudly participated in the Grace for Vets program since 2014.

The following 5 Car Wash locations provided $1098 in car washes:

150 Leeman Highway, Bath, Maine

130 Main Street, South Paris, Maine

94 Main Street, Jay, Maine

90 Western Avenue, South Portland, Maine

936 US Route 1, Yarmouth, Maine

Our 343 Wilson Street, Brewer, Maine was experiencing mechanical difficulties and plans to participate in 2018!

30th Annual MDA Golf Classic

CN Brown Company believes in our mission to help raise money for research and support of families in Maine that live with Muscular Dystrophy.   For 30 years, CN Brown Company has hosted a golf classic raising over $250,000!  With the support of 80+employees, and over 50 vendors, this event has become a huge success.  Thank you to all the participants at our 30th Annual Event!

MMTA Recognizes Driver of the Month ~ Greg Hoyt

CN Brown Company’s Transportation Division is proud to share Greg Hoyt’s recognition as MMTA’s Driver of the Month for August 2017.  Greg was nominated for Driver of the Month by Ken Cannell, Director of Transportation.  Greg has 47 years of driving experience; 42 of which have been with CN Brown Company.  Greg was recognized for his 3,000,000 accident free miles; outstanding job, Greg!

     

CN Brown Company Business Meeting

Congratulations to employees recognized at the CN Brown Company Business Meeting on Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Jeremy Shaw ~ Corporate Office Employee of the Year

Karla Blackman ~ Marketing Manager of the Year

Jordan Fike ~ Heating Oil Manager of the Year

Greg Hoyt ~ Transportation Driver of the Year

Scott Pingree ~ Heating Oil Driver of the Year

Arline Waddell ~ Service Station Manager of the Year

Danielle Doyon ~ Big Apple Store Manager of the Year

Margaret Simon ~ MDA Top Big Apple Store Fundraising Territory of the Year

Amy Laverdiere ~ MDA Top Service Station Fundraiser of the Year

We’d also like to recognize the following employees for their years of service:

Ramona Smith ~ Heating Oil Manager – 46 Years

Kyle Frith ~ Marketing Manager – 10 Years

Dawn Hoyt ~ Big Apple Store Manager – 5 Years

Kelly Wheat ~ Big Apple Store Manager  – 5 Years

Big Apple’s Uncle Rick Radio Campaign Wins 2017 Broderson Award

On Thursday, April 20th the Ad Club of Maine recognized Big Apple and Vreeland Marketing with a Broderson Award for their “Uncle Rick” radio campaign.

You’ve probably heard Uncle Rick while driving to work listening to your favorite radio station or while pumping gas at your local Big Apple. In 2015, Big Apple partnered with Vreeland Marketing to develop the voice of the brand – the hard-working, fun-loving, trouble-making Uncle Rick, who just happens to be Big Apple’s biggest fan.

For over 35 years, the Ad Club’s Broderson Awards have recognized exceptional creative work from Maine ad agencies, brands and freelancers. This year’s awards featured nearly 30 different categories, spanning the entire spectrum of the modern advertising world. Vreeland took home a silver in the broadcast radio campaign category for the “Uncle Rick” radio campaign.

“We’re so proud to partner with Big Apple on this popular campaign,” said Rich Davies, Creative Director and Partner at Vreeland. “Uncle Rick brings the casual, local attributes of the brand to life, while offering a bit of humor for your morning commute.”

Listen to a sample spot.

Broaderson Award 4.28.2017

CN Brown Company Supports the MDA of Maine

MDA Shamrocks Tradition Thrives in Maine;  C.N. Brown’s Big Apple Convenience Store Raises $83,000 to Help Maine Families Fight Muscle-Debilitating Diseases

More than 76 Big Apple Convenience Stores throughout Maine and New Hampshire teamed with customers to raise $83,000 to help free kids and adults from the harm of muscular dystrophy, ALS and related life-threatening diseases that limit strength and mobility during the 35th annual MDA Shamrocks program to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA).

“Each year, C.N. Brown and Big Apple Store employees and customers open their hearts to make a big difference through the simple act of selling or purchasing an MDA Shamrock,” said Ashley King, Executive Director of MDA Maine. “We’re grateful to everyone who participated and we’re honored to have the People of C.N. Brown’s support of MDA’s mission to help local families affected by these muscle-debilitating diseases live longer and grow stronger.”

From February 20th to March 17th, Big Apple Stores participated in the nation’s largest St. Patrick’s Day fundraising program in which customers and associates purchased an MDA Shamrock at check-out for a $1, $5 or a larger contribution at check-out. Each Shamrock was signed by the customer and prominently displayed in each store, symbolizing strength, independence and life for MDA families in the community.

Since first teaming up with MDA in 1985, C.N. Brown and its customers have raised nearly $6 million dollars to help MDA provide the families it serves with critical resources and support to fulfill life goals.

This year, the MDA Shamrocks program united tens of thousands of retail locations throughout the country to benefit the organization’s shared mission to fund groundbreaking research across diseases and provide individuals with life-enhancing programs and support services, including state-of-the-art multidisciplinary care the MDA Care Center at Maine Medical Partners Neurology in Scarborough.

Funds raised also make MDA Summer Camp possible for more than 90 area kids where they can experience the best week of the year at no cost to their families at Camp Agassiz Village in Poland, Maine.

About MDA
MDA is leading the fight to free individuals — and the families who love them — from the harm of muscular dystrophy, ALS and related muscle-debilitating diseases that take away physical strength, independence and life. We use our collective strength to help kids and adults live longer and grow stronger by finding research breakthroughs across diseases; caring for individuals from day one; and empowering families with services and support in hometowns across America.

Learn how you can fund cures, find care and champion the cause at mda.org.

MDA Logo 4.7.2017

 

Convenience Store News Rising Star, Brandi Cushman

Atlanta, GA, October 19, 2016 – CN Brown Company’s Brandi Cushman was celebrated at the Omni Atlanta Hotel at CNN Center, during the annual NACS convention.  Brandi Cushman was recognized as one of twenty-one Rising Stars by the Convenience Store News editorial staff in conjunction with the Network of Executive Women (NEW) and the 2016 Top Women in Convenience Advisory Board.  Brandi was nominated by her peers drawing from her achievements during the last 12 months.  Nominators were asked to illustrate the candidate’s innovative corporate initiatives, extraordinary financial and strategic accomplishments, astute problem solving acumen, exceptional performance and selfless charitable participation, along with other attributes that go above and beyond the call of duty.  As one of two category managers at C. N. Brown Company, Brandi manages a variety of categories, including tobacco.  She is a 20 year veteran with 77 C-Stores in Maine, New Hampshire & Vermont.  Brandi is recognized each year for her work with the Muscular Dystrophy Association as she and her team coordinate an annual event, the C. N. Brown Company Miracle Ball.  C. N. Brown Company would also like to give an additional shout out for Brandi’s efforts on our Annual Golf Tournament and Trade Show.  We are honored to have Brandi on our team!

brandi-cushman-tops-women-in-convenience-stores-2016

Picture taken at the Omni Atlanta Hotel, CNN Center, Wednesday, October 19th