Mike Tierney came to the well-known East Coast convenience store chain Cumberland Farms in 2011. He was recruited to reorganize and rebuild an entire construction department at a pivotal moment for the brand. In the late 2000s, the company underwent a leadership reorganization that quickly uncovered that a rebrand wasn’t just a good idea, it was desperately necessary.
By the time Tierney left in 2018, he was building about forty stores a year that consisted of new builds or both raises and rebuilds. Tierney built a new corporate office within its distribution center, a new culinary center, and even a refrigerated loading dock. The executive helped roll out new branding, new initiatives, and new construction that allowed the company to be sold for more than $2 billion in 2019.
“I think that was probably the pivotal moment in my career,” Tierney explains. “I had to rebuild protocols and processes from within that had existed for decades. But more than that, I try to focus on empowering people and giving them the tools they need to grow professionally and personally. I always want to be that coach.”
After a successful stint with Speedway, Tierney once again got a call so interesting that he couldn’t pass up. In many ways, the story seemed similar to Cumberland Farms. Energy North Group, a privately owned business, was being taken over by the next generation of the family that had built it, and significant growth was needed to modernize operations.
“I am part of the brand-new leadership across the board,” Tierney explains after coming onboard as VP of real estate, construction, and facilities. “We have a new chief people officer, a new chief information officer, a new chief financial officer—it’s all new. The idea of coming into a company to once again help reshape things, to manage change in the company, and grow this organization into something bigger and better was incredibly enticing. I find it a lot harder than the day-to-day construction side of things, but it’s also what I love the most,” says Tierney.
One of the biggest challenges for Tierney is the diversity of Energy North’s portfolio. Along with seventy convenience stores and twenty-five carwashes, Energy North provides heat for 40,000 customers. It even has its own trucking company called ABS Trucking. Energy North also has a wholesale supply business that provides convenience and gas station products for more than 100 dealers in the New England and Upstate New York area.
Tierney’s purview is all things real estate, construction, and facilities. “It’s not just building convenience stores and car washes of which there is a great deal of building,” the VP explains. “One day it might be a corporate facility, and tomorrow it might be a new propane storage facility.” In fact, those are both projects on Tierney’s plate at present.
But it’s not just the building, it’s the reshaping of an entire organization. There have been hard decisions, like having to restructure the facilities team, because Energy North is now an organization that needs more qualified technicians. Tierney has worked to rebuild the facilities organization from the ground up, and the leader pulls no punches in saying the process has been extremely challenging. But that’s why he came to Energy North in the first place.
To create such wide-ranging and fundamental change, Tierney has sought some outside help. “For a job like this, I’ve got back to some folks that have worked for me in the past with whom I’ve built a significant amount of trust,” he says. The executive brought in a director of construction who worked with him at Cumberland Farms, a maintenance manager he worked with at Speedway, and a senior project manager who worked with Tierney at Irving Oil.
“I knew what I needed to hit the ground running here,” Tierney says. “These were people who I knew could make an impact immediately: people I trust who have proven themselves time and again.” Tierney says the heavy amounts of mergers and acquisitions happening in this industry aren’t immune to Energy North, and that he may have more projects on his plate than he knows what to do with. But that’s the kind of expansion that has motivated the VP his whole career; it’s what he thrives on, and it’s what keeps him coming back.