“We don’t just serve them; we make a difference in their lives. By giving back to our communities. By helping others when they need it,” says 2014-2015 NACS Chairman.
“We can truly make a difference in people’s lives,” said Kwik Trip Vice President of Operations Support Steve Loehr in accepting the gavel as the 2014-2015 NACS Chairman of the Board during the 2014 NACS Show Closing General Session.
For Kwik Trip, making a difference means focusing on three areas: food, fuels and people. And in all three areas, Kwik Trip has exceptional stories to tell.
First, food. “If you haven’t heard by now, Kwik Trip sells a lot of bananas. When I mean a lot I mean about 44 million pounds a year. That works out to about 400 pounds per store, every day of the year. We sell a lot of other produce as well—apples, oranges, lettuce, onions and potatoes,” said Loehr.
But Kwik Trip does more than sell produce. It offers healthy options in stores and even partnered with a local hospital to create a series of smart choice meal options at its stores. Today, Kwik Trip has its own program, and it includes offering free fruit to co-workers every day.
Kwik Trip undertook these programs because they believed that these were the right things to do. They didn’t seek publicity, but others noticed, including the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA).
“They told us that convenience retailers can play a big role in the national effort to make the healthy choice the easy choice for busy parents and families. And we agreed,” said Loehr.
That all culminated earlier this year when Kwik Trip became the first convenience store chain to sign a commitment with the Partnership for a Healthier America. Loehr encouraged retailers to work with groups like PHA to help make a difference in the communities that they serve.
“I want to stand before you next year at the NACS Show and announce that there are many more who have joined us. We can help not only shape our industry, but the perception of it,” said Loehr.
Kwik Trip also is a leader in looking at new fuels, selling compressed natural gas (CNG) at 30 locations, including its warehouse fueling center that has an astonishing 10 different fuels for sale.
“The model is simple: Focus on known demand and expand from there. We target fleets and others that already have CNG vehicles. That allows us to make sales work now, without waiting for a big shift in consumer sentiment. We also are CNG customers: Over half of our fleet is converted to LNG/CNG,” said Loehr.
“Pricing is much simpler with CNG,” Loehr added. “We don’t see wild wholesale price swings. In fact, since we first offered it nearly two years ago, we have changed the price just twice. Total. We probably could’ve painted the price on there.”
Of course, none of what Kwik Trip does with food and fuels could work without its people, and Loehr shared two powerful stories of coworkers helping customers during this past year’s frigid weather caused by the polar vortex.
“Those two examples summarize what we can mean to our customers. Our people do great things, and it makes a huge difference in our communities. Kindness is contagious,” said Loehr.
The convenience retailing industry serves 160 million customers a day in this country—half of the U.S. population. But Loehr said that what the industry provides is much more than a transaction.
“We don’t just serve them; we make a difference in their lives. By giving back to our communities. By helping others when they need it. And by setting an example to others. It is the right thing to do. And it is what we do right,” he said.