Canco’s origin story began with two independent dealers and a desire to do things differently.
Parmjeet Singh Sehgal and Ravinder Nijjar were working as gas jockeys, saving up enough money to buy their own c-gas site in Kamloops, B.C. That was more than 15 years ago; from there the two gas-jockeys-turned-dealers amassed enough money to buy a second store.
Owning and operating two locations under a well-known banner gave the duo insights into what makes a gas station successful.
“They understood that customers are number one and were really able to leverage the relationships that they built along the way; to a point where they really knew the store inside and out, and what made the store fundamentally successful,” says Laing.
By leveraging their relationships with the terminals that were supplying the fuel they were selling, the two found out that they were able to purchase their fuel directly from the terminals. When their fuel-supply agreements expired, Sehgal and Nijjar decided it was time to make a move and launched their own brand.
“We discovered that we have the ability to pick up from those same terminals, and of course, we have to pay the shipping fee, but we get to actually capture some of that profit,” says Laing. “So, we rebranded our first site in Kamloops.”
The company’s loyalty program—Canco Cash—is a valuable tool that Vivek Kumar, who manages the new corporate store in Brampton, Ont., uses to attract and retain customers. The cashback program offers customers two cents per litre, 2% cashback on in-store purchases and 1% cashback on lottery tickets.
Kumar, who began his career with Canco in 2016 as a cashier in Kamloops, says the Brampton site is just a few months old, but is already building a strong reputation in the community.
“People have been coming here to save on gas prices, once they are here, we make sure to give them the best customer service,” says Kumar, adding Brampton often has one of the lowest prices on GasBuddy—an app that helps customers find the cheapest gas stations—and strong Google reviews have helped make the store credible in the community.
Stories like Kumar’s are ones that Canco strives to see more often, says Laing. “The idea is to build a structure where there are aspirations to grow within the company. So, you can start as a store manager and from there you can work your way to becoming a regional manager, who can help coach and develop other managers.”
Right now, the bright blue-and-orange Canco’s logo is spread thin across the GTA but sends strong signals about Canco’s bullish expansion outside of British Columbia. Laing says that there’s a strong desire to move directly into Toronto, where large, national- and multinational dominate the market. For a lone independent, the competition might be too tough, but for Canco, Toronto may be just another city of tournaments.