Picture this: You’re part of the team responsible for refuelling station site development. A challenge at the best of times, considering you need to forecast what’s going to drive results for your company roughly a decade out. But what if the first global pandemic in a century lands on your doorstep in year eight? What then? How do you take what’s already been set in stone and make it work for a new set of circumstances? Or a new reality?
Sometimes, when reality bites, you need to bite back. That’s just what the Suncor team did as they forged ahead with their plans to open Petro-Canada Cookstown, strategically located on Highway 89 in Innisfil, Ont., a stone’s throw from Highway 400, on the verge of Muskoka cottage country.
According to Pat Ritchie, vice-president sales and marketing for Suncor, what allowed them to bite back was a robust site development process that’s been over 30 years in the making.
“The Cookstown site falls in line with our existing plan, so it made sense no matter what,” says Ritchie of the location that opened in May 2021. “It’s a highway strategy to support both wholesale and retail traffic. We estimate that 60% of our traffic there is wholesale and 40% is retail. The site supports commuter traffic in the area and sees a big surge in the summer as people head to cottage country.”
The location is referred to as an integrated travel centre, a designation to describe a facility with a Petro-Canada retail component and a Petro-Pass truck stop all-in-one. As such, it’s been designed to not only cater to both audiences, but to provide a few surprises along the way. Some of these features are being test-marketed at Petro-Canada Cookstown for possible roll-out in more locations down the road.