May 2016: Business Briefcase


Valentine plans sale of stores to Sunoco

Valentine Stores Inc. announced last month that it has agreed to sell its entire portfolio of convenience stores, gas stations and restaurants to a subsidiary of Sunoco, one of the nation’s largest gas distribution companies.

The Watertown company, co-owned by brothers John P. and Edward J. Valentine, said in a news release that the transaction with Sunoco LP, a subsidiary of the Newtown Square, Pa.-based company, is expected to close in the second quarter of this year. According to its website, Sunoco LP distributes gas to convenience stores, independent dealers and other commercial customers. Nationwide, it owns about 1,340 convenience stores with gas stations.

Valentine Stores said it will sell its 18 Nice N Easy convenience stores with gas stations across Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties under the transaction. Five of those stores include Subway quick-service restaurants inside. It will also sell its four Tim Hortons Cafe & Bake Shop locations.
Nice N Easy stores that have quick-service Tim Hortons inside are on outer Coffeen Street in the town of Watertown and on Route 11 in the town of LeRay, across from Walmart Supercenter. The company also owns a standalone Tim Hortons at Mill and West Main streets, along with a quick-service restaurant inside the Express Mart convenience store on Arsenal Street.

The Valentines declined to comment about the agreement made by the company, based in the Jefferson County corporate park off outer Coffeen Street in the town of Watertown. The transaction price was not disclosed by the company, which said that Robert Valentine of Trefethen Advisors LLC, Scottsdale, Ariz., is serving as an advisor for the pending agreement.


Potsdam Chamber names Business of the Year

The Potsdam Chamber of Commerce recently announced North Country Oil Change and Repair as its 2016 Business
of the Year award recipient.

The business was chosen for accommodating customers, being “exceptionally kind, patient and honest,” and going out of the way for customer satisfaction, the chamber stated in a news release.

It was also noted that the business recently lengthened its service bay hours to accommodate higher demand. It is one of the few remaining stations with a full service staff.

North Country Oil Change and Repair sponsors Little League Baseball and donates to causes, including a donation of a flatbed truck for the parade review at the Potsdam Summer Festival.

The award was presented at the Chamber’s Spring Luncheon earlier this month at the Potsdam Town & Country Club.


Call center to hire 300

The Convergys call center on Arsenal Street plans to hire 300 employees from now through the end of the month, a move that would significantly increase its current staff size of 900.
Based on the hiring plans of two unnamed clients in the health care and satellite television industries, the call center plans to rapidly expand to have a record number of employees, according to Shelbie L. Cooper, recruiting manager for the Watertown site.

Mrs. Cooper said the full-time jobs, which include benefits, start with three to four weeks of paid classroom training and two weeks of paid on-the-job training. She said people with experience in the retail and hospitality industries could find a great fit at the center, where employees provide round-the-clock technical assistance for customers on behalf of national companies in different industries.

“We’re looking for highly motivated individuals to handle inbound calls,” Mrs. Cooper said. “Potential employees need to have a good understanding of customer service and computer literacy, with excellent communication skills.”

Of the 300 employees who will be hired, she said, “there will be an opportunity for about 21 people to be promoted. For one out of every 14 people we hire, we need a leadership agent.”

The center provides customer service for four clients in the satellite television, entertainment, telecommunications and health insurance industries, Mrs. Cooper said.

The center opened in 2003 as Stream Global Services. Before Convergys acquired the center from Stream in the spring of 2014, Stream invested in a $4.2 million expansion to increase the building’s seating capacity.


Agricultural Program receives $600k in budget

The Northern New York Agricultural Development Program has received $600,000 in the 2016-17 New York State budget to support on-farm research and technical assistance in Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties.

Northern New York Agricultural Development Program projects span all sectors from dairy, crops and livestock to fruit, vegetable and maple production and agricultural environmental stewardship.

Twenty-six projects are now underway, including research on disease resistance in cherry tomatoes, management practices to reduce heat stress in dairy cows and calves, and ways to increase bee health management.

The January 2016 economic impact report on the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program, a list of 2016 NNYADP projects, research reports, and event notices are online at