While some c-stores might celebrate their 50th anniversary with a party and cake, OnCue Express is celebrating its Golden Jubilee with eight new stores in the pipeline and a growing reputation as one of Oklahoma’s premiere convenience retailers.
By David Bennett, Senior
In the last decade, Stillwater, Okla.-based OnCue Marketing LLC has taken incremental steps to build its OnCue Express brand into a winning commodity.
Today, OnCue Express has earned a reputation in Oklahoma as a quality retailer committed to expanding its offerings to a growing customer base.
Laura Aufleger, OnCue’s director of corporate projects and daughter of CEO Jim Griffith, said to accommodate expanding store amenities, including roomy beer caves and drive-throughs for customers, the size of new OnCue stores has evolved into larger retail spaces.
“Our most recent stores are around 6,650 square feet,” Aufleger said. “Our footprint has increased through the years.”
That development applies to both the size of the retailer’s new stores and its area of operation. OnCue Express currently operates 65 store and station locations, with another eight stores in the pipeline. The company also expects to add 200 people this year.
“‘Do the right thing’ has always been the main mantra for the company,” Aufleger said. “The ability to grow from within has always been important but it is even greater as the company expands.”
From its modest roots, OnCue Express was recently voted by the media as one of the Top Workplaces in Oklahoma.
The company opened its latest store in the city of Moore this past March. In the next few weeks, OnCue and is planning another store opening in Oklahoma City. In new locations, the c-store has consistently been adding to its in-store offerings, which now include f’real milkshakes, the Cue Café coffee bar, Deli Express breakfast and lunch sandwiches.
A traditional foodservice element and consistent winner with customers is the OnCue’s roller grill program, a perfect long-distance travel companion. Taquitos, tornados, corndogs, Mihn vegetable-pork egg rolls and hot dogs are just some of the grill options. Included is a condiment bar offering such as sauerkraut, relish and chili to local favorite toppings including pico de gallo.
The c-store also boasts self-serve frozen yogurt with eight flavors and 27 yogurt toppings.
In addition, FreezeCue-brand frozen dispensed beverages complete popular lunch combinations.
As a result, in-store sales jumped significantly in 2015. In a survey last year, OnCue Express was chosen Oklahoma’s best convenience store.
EMERGING FROM STILLWATER
Before there was OnCue Express, there was the family business, Griffith Petroleum.
A local story that circulates isthat when Stillwater, Okla. native Jim Griffith graduated from Oklahoma State University on a Friday, he reported to work at one of his father Jack’s convenience stores the next Monday.
As CEO of OnCue Express, Griffith has overseen the company’s growth since he purchased it from his father in 1995. It has grown from 11 stores to today’s 65 convenience locations.
OnCue Express was launched in 2004. In that time, OnCue has refined many of its programs and platforms to make it one of the most recognizable c-store retailers in the Midwest.
FUEL FOR THE FUTURE
In the last few years, OnCue Express also became one of the largest alternative fuels retailers in Oklahoma, sparked primarily by its significant investment in compressed natural gas (CNG).
Beginning six years ago with one location that provided CNG to a single corporate fleet, the company now has 20 locations that provide CNG to commercial and light-weight vehicles.
Scott Minton, OnCue’s CNG market development manager, left Chesapeake Energy Corp. to oversee the growing fuel program. He said the price stability of CNG allows customers to invest in more CNG vehicles, which helps OnCue commit to investing in more infrastructure to provide fast-fill CNG fueling.
“Our goal is to put CNG at every one of our new locations as we build them, and we’re building 5-8 locations per year,” Minton said.
The company’s two newer, multi-million dollar locations comprise the OnCue Express Truck Stop on I-35 in Billings, Okla. and an OnCue Express c-store at Sooner Road in Oklahoma City, which boasts twin 250-horsepower dispensers with four CNG hoses in addition to its gasoline and diesel pumps.
While CNG has become a popular facet of OnCue’s fuel offerings, most metro area locations have wide variety of fuel offerings including Phillips 66-branded gasoline, diesel, clear product—that has no ethanol, and ethanol blended E85.
Like other c-stores, OnCue enjoys a professional relationship with its customers and a philanthropic connection to communities in Oklahoma, which includes supporting various charities. One nonprofit that the retailer has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for is St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, based in Memphis, Tenn.
“This is a people-oriented business and this sense of community spirit and partnership is best reflected in our amazing employees,” Aufleger said. “Every October everyone comes together to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. From selling pumpkin pin-ups to getting pies in the face and putting on a golf tournament, the company-wide efforts to benefit such an amazing cause.”
OnCue has teamed up with the Stillwater Police Department to launch the Positive Ticket program as part of C.O.P. (Community Outreach Program). Kids observed doing good deeds in their community can be written “positive tickets” by local law enforcement officials, which in turn, can be redeemed for a “treat”at OnCue store locations.
Whether it’s community outreach efforts, alternative fuel initiatives, or an expanding operational footprint, OnCue hopes to make its presence known to even more communities.
“We hope to be a premier convenience store experience everywhere that we operate,” Aufleger said.
AT A GLANCE
CEO: Jim Griffith
Headquarters: Stillwater, Okla.
Store Locations: 65
Gasoline Brand: Phillips 66