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‘Ordinary’ Johnstone Did Extraordinary Things

SPOKANE, Wash. — Cenex Zip Trip general manager Ian Johnstone, 54, who passed away on August 19, leaves behind a legacy of inspiring employees and working with children’s charities.

Johnstone suffered a heart attack overnight in his sleep before a planned celebration of a record-breaking year for his team at Cenex Zip Trip.

“Devastated by the news, members of the Cenex Zip Trip family planned to cancel the celebration. Ian’s wife, Angela, wouldn’t have any of that. She told them that if they truly want to honor their CEO that they celebrate with gusto,” said Mitch Morrison, CSP vice president and group editor, who was friends with Johnstone.

Johnstone had a passion for children’s charities, said Morrison. “Something you may want to know about Ian–he loved kids. The company raised nearly $50,000 this year for The Salvation Army’s Backpack for Kids.”

Watch the embedded KXLY video below and click here for more about Johnstone and the backpack drive.

Cenex Zip Trip also recently scored highly in the 2015 CSP/Service Intelligence Mystery Shop.

“I also know how proud he was that we included Cenex Zip Trip in our most recent mystery shop and that they were the big surprise in the study, finishing in the top five against many of the biggest names in our convenience channel,” Morrison said. (Click here to read Morrison’s July 2015 tribute to Johnstone and others.)

“We have to be able to go out there every day and communicate, and work with [employees], and show them we’re good at the hows and whats,” Johnstone told CSP magazine following the news of the mystery-shop success. “We’ve got to be better at the whys: why it’s important to make sure these things are done correctly. … From top to bottom, our role is to have ordinary people do extraordinary things.”

That sentiment in many ways could be Johnstone’s epitaph.

He is survived by his wife and two children, Olivia and Chancellor.

Cenex Zip Trip has announced that Johnstone’s memorial service will be held Tuesday, August 25, at 11:00 a.m. at St. Joseph Catholic Parish, 3720 East Colbert Road, Colbert, WA 99005.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to The Salvation Army’s Backpack for Kids Program.

There are two different ways to donate: Via mail, send a check with “Backpacks for Kids Honoring Ian Johnstone” in the memo line to The Salvation Army (Attn: Ian Johnstone Backpack for Kids Fund), 220 East Indiana, Spokane, WA 99207 or online at (click on the “make a donation” bucket). Please wait until Saturday, August 22, in order for a line to be added on the entry screen to designate the “Ian Johnstone Backpack for Kids Fund.”

St. Paul, Minn.-based CHS Inc., a leading energy and grain-based foods company, operates 70 Cenex Zip Trip gas stations and convenience stores in the Spokane, Wash., area offering the company’s Cenex fuel brand.

CSP Daily News sends condolences to Johnstone’s family, his friends and his colleagues.


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