Frozen yogurt at the gas pump? One firm hopes to “saturate” the Kissimmee market.

Danny Ghandour, the marketing manager of Race Trac's Kissimmee office, and Chip Clark, the community marketing associate, meet with the members of the Poinciana Economic Devleopment Alliance. (Photo by Michael Freeman).

POINCIANA – Like most gas stations, the one that Danny Ghandour works at doesn’t make its profits from the gasoline sold at the pumps.
Instead, the goal at Race Trac, he added, is to draw people inside the store.
“We are always the lowest (gas prices),” he said. “We try to drive people inside. The thing we’d like to make money off of is our food service.”
That’s why, Ghandour said, the new Race Trac gas station opening in Poinciana next month will offer a full selection of frozen yogurt – something the station hopes proves to be a popular item.
“We’re trying to have a larger offering of food in the store,” he said. “Nobody has frozen yogurt out there now, and it generates thousands of dollars every year.”
Ghandour is the marketing manager for the Race Trac station that’s opening in Poinciana in July. It will be a huge building – “6,000 square feet of store,” he added. “We do have five of them in Atlanta, but this is our first one in Florida.”
The location in Poinciana, he added, was chosen for a good reason: because the company’s demographic studies have indicated that this is a fast-growing consumer market with a lot of potential for a company like Race Trac.
“Kissimmee and Poinciana are a big target area for us,” he said. “We’re trying to saturate Kissimmee now. They predict in the next five years, this market will double in size.”
And just as Race Trac hopes to do well serving local residents, the company also plans to become a firm partner in the community, said Chip Clark, the community marketing associate for the firm.
“We’re going to be doing a few things over the school year at New Dimensions High,” Clark said. “We do have some partnership opportunities coming up with that. We want to let the community know we’re here for them.”
On Wednesday, Ghandour and Clark met with the members of the Poinciana Economic Development Alliance during its monthly meeting, held at the Poinciana Community Center. PEDA is a non-profit agency working to promote more economic development and job growth in Poinciana, a community of 84,000 residents that cuts across both Polk and Osceola counties.
“We’re excited about having you in the community,” said Nick Murdock, the chairman of PEDA. “We know you’ll be an asset to the community.”
Ghandour said was a virtual guarantee, since “Race Trac’s mission is to make people’s lives simpler,” by offering them quality service, convenience, and good food at their new Poinciana store.
Beyond that, he said the store truly would be an asset to the community.
“The taxes paid yearly by us are pretty substantial,” he said. “The amount of payroll we give out each week is in the $10,000 range. Of our new employees, we do have two top performers who are out of Poinciana, and that’s excellent.”
Race Trac’s store managers, he added, earn more than $50,000 a year, and workers starting at the entry level have plenty of opportunity to rise within the company to higher positions.
“We’re an $8 billion company and expanding,” he said. “We’re going to keep coming into communities and helping people.”
Ghandour says he doesn’t expect Race Trac to make its profits from the gasoline sold there, even though gas prices have been falling for weeks.
“Hess makes their money on the outside (at the pumps) because they refine their own fuel,” Ghandour said, adding that Race Trac aims to get people to go inside the convenience store and spend their money there.
“We do a lot of baking in our facilities now,” he said. “The smoking categories are declining heavily, because people are more health conscious now. Beer sales are volatile. That’s why we’re looking at frozen yogurt.”
Next month, at a date that has yet to be determined, Race Trac will open its brand new Poinciana convenience store and gas station on Pleasant Hill Road.
“We’ll have some giveaways there,” Clark said. “It will be like one big party. It’s going to be a big celebration.”

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