An Expert’s Take on Increasing Regulations

Reading Time : 5min read
Several trucks fueling up at a convenience store.

Brent Puzak has worked for convenience stores for over two decades. During that time, he learned first-hand about the challenges facing each department. So we brought him in to share his perspective on how teams of all sizes can scale their operations amidst increasing regulations. 

Read his take below.

During my time working for convenience stores, I’ve learned that Compliance Managers face unique challenges. They need to answer complex questions and focus on the day-to-day tasks necessary to follow state and federal regulations. Finding that balance between increasing revenue while meeting the needs of stakeholders, regulators, and public health is hard.

The role of the Director and Compliance Manager is complex. Their job is three-fold:

  1. Keeping stores and tanks operational while taking the pressure off store personnel. 
  2. Find solutions for operators.
  3. Ensure their actions comply fully with all regulations.

My tenure with convenience stores gave me a 360-degree view of these segments: employees, operators, and regulators. It allowed me to work with massive amounts of data and interpret it from many perspectives in a way that minimized disruption.

Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way.

How do regulations create challenges for compliance teams?

The biggest challenge facing the industry over the last several years is the updated underground storage tank (UST) regulations. The 2005 Energy Policy Act created a greater focus on compliance for the c-store industry. The new double-wall requirements have added a layer of complexity for compliance teams.

Because of this, convenience store owners now need to turn their attention to a new problem: How can they better manage increasing regulations? Their old ways of managing data and performing inspections are no longer sustainable. These new requirements go beyond the scope of what your average compliance manager can handle manually. 

For example, before the 2005 Energy Policy Act, a lot of people were using SIR and CSLD for their method of release detection. Then interstitial monitoring became a rule. There are more sensors in the storage tanks pulling more data than ever before and stores need to collect that data on an ongoing basis.

People who managed their data on Excel spreadsheets struggled to keep up with the workload. A lot of people looked for systems to help them better manage their business to keep pace with their growth. As you can imagine, using remote technology to access, store, and check data is far easier than checking gauges manually and sorting every spreadsheet by hand. It makes a compliance manager’s job much easier, much cheaper, and much more effective.

Because of its convenience and functionality, we’ve seen software evolve from a nice-to-have to a critical need in the industry.

How do c-store compliance teams solve these challenges?

Owners and operators have had to figure out how to manage the firehose of data. They’ve realized that spreadsheets, which they’d been using for years, weren’t going to cut it. An increase in compliance requirements means more testing and inspections. And more scrutiny means finding more issues to resolve. 

The amount of data required to meet regulations has almost tripled now that the 2005 Energy Policy Act is in place. These new requirements have placed an extra burden on compliance staff and organizations as a whole. Depending on the types of systems in operation, periodic testing and release detection must be completed to ensure overall system integrity, while monthly visual inspections ensure that irregular operating conditions are caught to minimize and prevent impacts to the environment. Many of these tests and inspections are new requirements and add additional visibility and tracking to each site.

In fact, some customers have seen an increase of 30,000 or more component tests and inspections over a two to three-year period! 

Store owners want to remain compliant, but they need help to scale at this order of magnitude. It is humanly impossible to track such an enormous amount of data without some tracking system in place. Operators need to find platforms that allow them to manage compliance aspects more effectively; the data needs to be housed somewhere, and ideally someplace that’s easy to navigate and sort.

Customers are looking to cloud technology for its vast storage capabilities. Cloud software allows them to access data remotely from anywhere and share it more globally. This flexibility gives them visibility to critical compliance information and more control over the way people work.

Once compliance teams have access to a central source of truth and have experienced first-hand the value of technology, they embrace digital transformation.

Wrap up

In my experience, it’s important to have a system in place that gives me visibility into all the data. I want to make sure I’m not missing anything that regulators need and I want a way to report on compliance efficiently.

At my last company, using Titan’s software allowed me to do that. Today, as a Titan team member, I help other convenience stores transform how they handle their mountain of data. 

Best of all, the technology will continue to evolve and grow as regulations do. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in this industry–regulations tend to only increase.

Brent Puzak

VP of Solutions Consulting

Brent brings 25 years' industry experience to Titan Cloud as the Vice President of Solutions Consulting. He led environmental shared services for a global retail chain with over 9,000 locations, moving through numerous leadership positions. Brent's diverse background and knowledge allows him to take a strategic approach to addressing complex industry challenges.

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