Volume 8 | Issue 4 | Year 2005

You’re a commuter. Every morning you leave the house in a rush and that’s the same way you enter the local deli or convenience store to get your coffee or tea, maybe a newspaper and something to eat, since you skipped breakfast at home. Some days you need gas, which adds more urgency. While making coffee you notice spillage on the warped counter with doors that don’t close correctly. It prompts you to notice that there’s dirt on the floor staining your shoes. By the time you get to the checkout counter, which is rickety and scratched, you’ve made a decision – you won’t be coming back. After all, why should you begin each day with such an unsatisfactory experience?

Such epiphanies take place all the time. And while one person deciding to change his or her morning routine may seem minor, it really represents the loss of a lifetime customer. If that keeps happening a few times a week it means lost business to convenience stores. Fortunately, Royston, LLC understands the value of the convenience store shopping experience.

“Convenience stores are competing with some big brands – McDonald’s and Starbucks to name a few – and it does not take much to lose customers to competition like that,” said Director of Marketing Clayton Taylor. “We don’t just make fixtures and checkout systems. Royston provides a strategic approach and customized engineering solutions that enhance the aesthetic appeal and shopping experience for convenience store customers.”

A highly integrated designer and manufacturer of customized store fixtures, Royston makes brand and image-enhancing checkout, food, beverage, and merchandising fixtures and kiosks. The company has focused on just-in-time and make-to-order technologies, enabling the company to provide brand-supporting, store-specific fixtures.

Borroughs and Reynolds acquisitions
In December 2003, Royston made two bold moves to firmly penetrate the retail fixture market. The company acquired two organizations: 1) the retail business unit of Borroughs Corporation, a leading supplier of metal checkout systems and 2) Reynolds Corporation, the nation’s leading manufacturer of wood checkout systems. By acquiring these industry leaders, Royston more than doubled in size.

“Integrating these three fine businesses created a number of opportunities for us to bring value and innovation to our customers,” said Earl Seekins, President and CEO of Royston, “first, by combining the leading wood check stand manufacturing company with the strong history of Borroughs metal checkstands and Royston’s design and manufacturing capabilities, we have been able to focus on understanding our customers’ fixture needs and problems, and solving them without limitation.”

“The grocery and mass merchant trend toward providing brand-focused convenience offerings within their stores has created a need for durable image-enhancing fixtures,” added Seekins.

Shelf sufficient
Royston constantly meets the needs of convenience and retail store owners. For example, on one recent Royston store inspection, the leader of the Royston crew noticed a large section of exposed plumbing jutting from a wall. Such unsightliness of the pipes might have a negative effect on store patrons. The Royston team took measurements of the area in question and developed a custom-made cabinet with a hole in the back to “quarantine” the plumbing and improve the appearance of the wall.

“We offer an extensive site survey and take digital photography in order to take everything into account, including plumbing and electricity,” said Taylor. “Every customers’ store is different, which means that work we put into the products that come out of our plants is quite complex. Because we manufacture unique products for each customer, we are challenged to accomplish speed and efficiency on a regular basis.”

This presents significant obstacles when you consider that a shelf with a 45-degree cut might work in one store but be off by as little as one degree in another. Royston does not allow customers to make do in such a situation, because by featuring a shelf without the right cut a store’s overall appearance is reduced.

“We assess every situation and pull customers through from concept to installation,” said Taylor.

Ship to store
Undoubtedly, Royston’s dedication to quality crafstmanship in tight confines dates back to the founding of the company. Royston began in 1868, when Arendt W. Hopeman, a Dutch immigrant, opened his cabinetmaking business in Rochester, N.Y. The business added marine joiner work in 1916, fabricating, coordinating, and contracting ship interiors.
As Royston grew, so did the possible applications for its products. In 1970, the company began a dedicated division serving convenience stores, food service and specialty retail with integrated design, manufacturing and installation capabilities. That division grew into what is now known as Royston.

“The convenience store business has evolved quite a bit over the last several years,” said Taylor. Today, convenience store owners are constantly adding new profit centers to better serve their customers.”

The trend has been toward food and drinks, which brings with it a need for cleanliness and consistency. This has forced convenience store operators to upgrade the look and feel of their establishments, which means, like a restaurant, the presentation of food is almost as important as the taste of it. That’s where Royston’s products greatly support sales.
“Impulse appeal is a major factor in convenience store shopping,” said Taylor. “When someone comes into a convenience store they are not usually there to browse, but as they move through the store, they often are enticed to buy something like a donut or candy bar. When we configure a customer’s store with our products, we seek to improve the likelihood of such impulse purchases.”

With more than 500,000 square feet of manufacturing space and over 700 employees dedicated to elevating the ambiance of convenience stores and retail outlets throughout the country, Royston seems to have succeeded in identifying and exploiting a lucrative market by leveraging its time-tested craftsmanship and marketing guile. So the next time you’re making your daily stop at your local convenience store, take a closer look around. If you think the place needs some improvement, ask the proprietor if he or she has ever heard of Royston. It might keep you coming back day after day.