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Cenex closing convenience store; Pumps and car wash to remain open

DRUMMOND – The Cenex gas station in Drummond will start changing its form and function in the near future, with the convenience store portion of the facility closing in October..

According to Mark Lalum, General Manager of the CHS Mountain West Co-op (CHS) in Missoula and parent company of the local business, the economics of the Drummond convenience store make it a drain on the operation as a whole.

“Sales within the store have been very low,” said Lalum Monday. “That store makes about $65,000 a year in sales, about $20,000 of which are LP Truck (propane) sales. It has about $95,000 in wages, so you can see the problem.”

Lalum stated that CHS didn’t want to lose the entire facility and that the only way to save the pumps and car wash was to close the convenience store. Those parts of the business will remain operational for the immediate future.

At present the projected close date for the convenience is the end of October.

Part of the reason for the closure is that by April 1, 2021 all gas stations must completely convert over to accepting chip compliant debit/credit cards at their pumps. It’s an expense that Lalum estimated will be approximately $50,000, putting an even larger strain on the Drummond’s facility’s bottom line.

Rumors circulated on social media that the entire station would be closing October 16, but Lalum denied that claim. He stated that CHS is currently in negotiations with another vendor that might take over the building and run a separate, unrelated business alongside the gas pumps and car wash.

The employees of CHS in Drummond will be kept on as long as financially possible, Lalum explained. If the negotiations with the new building vendor are successful, those employees may be able to be extended through the end of October. As of right now, the current manager is the only employee slated to stay on through that time.

Lalum also noted that CHS is hoping to still use the facility to make deliveries of its agricultural products to area ranchers and farmers.

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