About Us

The Story Behind Our Podcast

Behind The Mic

Frank Beard

Show Host

Frank Beard is a Des Moines based marketer, speaker, and writer who enjoys all things “convenience retail.” He travels frequently to visit exceptional stores both across the United States and internationally. 

Frank currently works in marketing and customer experience at Standard AI—the world’s leading computer vision platform for retail. In addition to co-hosting the In-Convenience Podcast, he writes a monthly column for C-Store Dive called “The Road Ahead.” 

Beard has presented at many events including the NACS Show, National Restaurant Association Show, Summer Fancy Food Show, NACS CEO Summit DACH, AACS Convenience Leaders Summit, Handle & Wandel, and numerous corporate gatherings. His analyses and insights have been featured in publications such as NPR, Bloomberg, the Wall Street Journal, Grocery Dive, the Washington Post, Atlas Obscura, and more.

Passionate about foodservice, Beard once spent an entire month eating at convenience stores and lived to tell the tale. His “30 Days of Gas Station Food” experiment raised awareness that yes, you really can make healthy choices on-the-go. Beard is also an active cyclist and enjoys participating in RAGBRAI—the nation’s oldest, longest, and largest organized bike ride.

Al Hebert, the "Gas Station Gourmet"

Show Host

Al Hebert is the Gas Station Gourmet. Part travel, but mostly food, the Gas Station Gourmet showcases America’s hidden culinary treasure—gas station cuisine. 

Al is a frequent speaker at industry events, often sharing insights based upon his constant visits to convenience stores and his nearly ten years writing the Gas Station Gourmet column for NACS Magazine. Each month, Al’s column shares the stories of successful, savvy independent retailers who’ve found success with foodservice.

Al resides in Abbeville, LA, where he is the morning news show producer for KADN-TV. 

Ernie Harker

Show Host

Ernie Harker is a world-class branding consultant, speaker, and author. He inspires audiences with stories of helping build dozens of brands, including the $3 billion “Adventure’s First Stop” brand for the convenience retailer, Maverik. He wrote, “Your Brand Sucks,” a book that outlines the fastest way to develop an authentically remarkable look, feel, and marketing strategy for any business. 

Ernie’s career began in 1993 as a concept artist for a large Ad agency in Salt Lake City. Two years, later he started a small production studio called Ernburn that built a reputation for illustration, animation, video production, ad design, writing, and brand development for various clients. Working with Maverik, he led a highly-successful rebranding effort that transformed a tired, old country store into an excitingly-profitable Adventure’s First Stop. 

In 2010, Ernie was asked to lead Maverik’s marketing and branding efforts as their Executive Director of Marketing, which helped catapult the company into a multi-billion dollar brand.

In 2018 Ernie left Maverik to write a book and pursue consulting and speaking opportunities.

Ernie loves to draw, run, wakeboard, do hot yoga, hit the gym, mountain bike, watch movies, eat junk food, and spend time with his family and brothers. 

Fun Facts

  • Ernie was the host and executive producer of a travel TV series called Xtreme Tourist
  • Wrote and produced an animated series on DVD
  • Teaches kids to draw on his YouTube channel, Sketch-e (beware, it’s cringey!)
  • Author and illustrator of three books (They’re Waiting for Me, Monster Factory, and Making Faces)
  • Ironman athlete
  • Climbed Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak
  • Has eight brothers and sisters

About the Show

Convenience stores fuel our communities. Every day, the $705 billion U.S. fuel and convenience retailing industry serves nearly 165 million consumers. From corporate chains with hundreds of stores to the single store that anchors a rural town, Americans from coast to coast rely on this industry to meet their daily needs for meals, snack, beverages, and more. 

This podcast is about the outliers. Forget the restroom keys attached to hubcaps. Yesterday’s dirty, interchangeable convenience store has been replaced by new formats that you actually do want in your backyard—or at least your nearest interstate exit. We tap into that conversation by featuring longform discussions, fascinating guests, and thought-provoking innovators.

Al, Frank, and Ernie bring different perspectives. Each of us participate in this industry in different ways. Al discovers the most unique single-store operators with amazing foodservice, Frank works in retail tech and writes about big trends, and Ernie is a branding expert who transformed the brand of one of the industry’s top retailers.