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First Coast Energy co-owner Aubrey Edge has helped cultivate a customer-centric atmosphere at Daily's convenience stores.
Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Aug. 23, 201612:00 PM EST

Daily's success, relationship with Jacksonville Jaguars help foster naming rights deal for amphitheater and flex field

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by: David Chapman

Aubrey Edge was in line to grab a water from a Daily’s location inside EverBank Field last year when two customers ahead of him struck up a conversation amongst each other.

The first remarked how “fantastic” it was the Jacksonville-based convenience store chain had a presence in the stadium. The other agreed.

“You know, it’s nicer there,” the first one responded, alluding to the chain’s slogan of “It’s nicer here.”

Edge didn’t speak up and introduce himself. The co-owner of First Coast Energy — Daily’s parent company — just stood in line and smiled before grabbing his water and heading back to watch some football.

“It was like I was watching my own commercial,” Edge said during an interview at his office Friday afternoon.

Hours earlier, Edge had been at the stadium, sharing the stage with Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan to announce their partnership had reached a higher level in a more visible way.

The much-anticipated amphitheater and outdoor flex facility that are part of the $90 million stadium renovations has its new “nicer” name: Daily’s Place.

It strengthens the relationship the team and local company have had for close to a decade, Edge said Friday at his Southside office.

The team and local company have more in common than some might realize.

They both are in increasingly competitive fields. They both have a strong focus on customer satisfaction. They both have undergone visible transformations in recent years after starting from scratch.

Living up to a slogan

The start for Edge and First Coast Energy began back in 1994, just a year after it was announced Jacksonville was receiving an NFL team.

Edge arrived in Jacksonville after six years as a BP executive, moving four times during that span while working in operations, real estate and, lastly, derivatives trading. He and two co-founders started First Coast Energy and bought 32 BP stations that brought in about $30 million in revenue that first year.

In the time since, the company’s stations have shifted to Shell. Many of the convenience stores have been rebranded into the Daily’s concept, which has grown to about 170 stores that annually generate more than $1 billion.

The Daily’s brand rolled out in 2004 after a couple of years of developing an image and a philosophy, one that Edge truly believes in.

“We wanted to transcend and be more than just a convenience store,” he said. “To do that, you have to be the nicest guys around.”

Customer service was going to be a driving factor. So were the offerings, ranging from a not-your-average wine selection to a gluten-free section to the in-house Daily’s Dash restaurant concepts launched in 2013.

The “It’s nicer here” tag line was created and Edge loved it.

“We just had to live up to it,” he said.

The partnership with the Jaguars took a next step in recent years because of it.

Leading by example

Daily’s is one of six companies on the highest partnership level with the team.

The stadium has three convenience store locations inside it and there are a couple of promotions for season ticketholders and children.

When Khan took over the team in 2012, it wasn’t long before that partnership strengthened.

About a year after, Edge remembers getting a call from team officials who had been doing market research on companies with high customer satisfaction. Daily’s kept popping up in focus groups.

Khan had mandated improving the game-day experience and the team asked Daily’s officials to train some of its employees in the area.

On game days, Daily’s staff even is integrated around the stadium to greet people and offer assistance when needed.

The request made Edge proud.

“It’s been our primary focus … provide the best customer service and everything else will follow,” he said.

Feedback for stores comes from managers who interact constantly with customers and relay information to corporate. Social media is another big avenue.

And Edge also sees for himself when he pops in his neighborhood store off Roosevelt Boulevard.

They recognize him there when he picks up gas, coffee or his favorite sandwich — a roast beef handheld aptly named “The Boss.”

“They treat me like anyone else,” he said with a smile.

Edge, 50, relies more on what his company is doing rather than what the competition is offering. And there is competition — Jacksonville-based Gate Petroleum Co. is a mainstay and Wawa and its rabid fanbase are entering the area.

“We try to think of things customers are going to like. That’s the key. … Stay focused on us and not what they (competitors) are doing,” said Edge.

Daily’s has more than 1,000 employees and is growing. In 2009, First Coast Energy purchased 87 stations in Broward and Palm Beach counties. Five are Daily’s now; another 12 are in permitting for renovations as the concept continues to grow.

Additionally, Edge said there are plans to take the company to other parts of the Southeast.

The most recent acquisition wasn’t a store, though. It was a name, one that took a couple of months held up by a few creative logjams before a familiar name helped guide it through.

Fitting the profile

Edge said the naming rights deal discussions began a couple of months ago after a casual conversation with Scott Massey, the Jaguars senior vice president of corporate partnerships.

Team President Mark Lamping said there were a number of possibilities on the table, including one company that was at the deal stage.

But after team leadership thought about it more, Daily’s fit the profile for the naming deal. Local company, longtime sponsor, a push to promote area businesses.

For the Jaguars, it would be an opportunity to reach a large customer base locally by being ever-present in all of Daily’s locations. For the company, it would be high-profile visibility.

Lamping declined to say what the terms of the deal were other than to say it was a multiyear agreement. The team keeps any revenue from the naming deal, which will need approval from City Council.

After the deal was struck, there was a little stumbling block.

No one could come up with a name everyone liked. For a few weeks, there were names pitched, but nothing stuck.

When Lamping and Massey sat down with Khan to tell him about the situation, Khan started rattling off names. One of those was Daily’s Place.

When Massey relayed the conversation to Edge, he mentioned Daily’s Place.

Edge couldn’t shake that one. He liked it.

He had his name, one that football fans, concertgoers and others traveling through Downtown will see when the amphitheater and flex-field are completed in May.

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