Kwik Trip Named Convenience Store Decisions’ 2018 Chain of the Year

The Wisconsin retailer has a decades-long commitment to co-workers, guests and the communities it serves. The chain will be honored at an exclusive event at the Stratosphere Theater on Oct. 8 in Las Vegas.

Honesty and integrity, respect, humility and innovation. These are the words that define Kwik Trip…and it shows.

The La Crosse, Wis.-based convenience store chain exemplifies what it means to be a “people company.” It is fully committed to guests, co-workers and its vendor partners, not as a strategy to grow the business, but because it’s the right thing to do. When this is your core mission, greatness surely isn’t far behind. The chain serves as a shining example of how to serve others and for this reason Convenience Store Decisions is proud to honor Kwik Trip as the 2018 Convenience Store Chain of the Year.

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Kwik Trip is the 29th Chain of the Year and the second two-time winner. It was first honored by CSD in 2004. The company will be honored on Oct. 8 at Stratosphere Theater in Las Vegas.

“Our business model is pretty simple and boils down to two things: For Kwik Trip to be successful, we need to take care of our co-workers and our co-workers need to take care of our guests,” said Don Zietlow, Kwik Trip’s founder and CEO.

This dynamic chain has been an inspiration for more than half a century. From managing quality assurance programs via vertical integration distribution systems to raising the bar on fresh food offerings in its stores to establishing employee-centric benefit packages (which include sharing 40% of pretax profits with all co-workers), Kwik Trip has forged a wide path for competitors to follow.

Zietlow opened the doors to the first store in 1965. Not only did he attain his dream, but he surpassed it many times over. By 1985, the family-owned business counted 100 stores. By 2001, that number had tripled. Today, Kwik Trip operates more than 630 locations, which also include Kwik Star, and Tobacco Outlet Plus, in Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota. That rate of growth is slated to continue with the company planning on adding 40 new stores in 2018.

“Kwik Trip wants to excel in having the cleanest stores, cleanest bathrooms, best service and best value on all the products we sell,” Zietlow said.

Kwik Trip currently employs more than 21,000 and serves a massive seven million guests each week. What makes this even more impressive is that Kwik Trip has a low turnover rate of just 30%. Corporate Support Center turnover rate is under 1%.

“In a convenience culture, where customers expect great service, quality and a memorable shopping experience, Kwik Trip exceeds expectations every day. From its employees to its world-class facilities, they simply have no weakness, and it’s a pleasure to see them in action,” said John Lofstock, editor of Convenience Store Decisions. “Family businesses made this industry what it is today and as long as outstanding companies like Kwik Trip continue to thrive, the convenience store industry will continue to reach new heights.”

KT at a Glance
While it remains firmly committed to serving others, Kwik Trip backs it up with operational excellence. Its setup is unsurpassed in the convenience store industry. The company’s 176,000-square-foot dairy on its large La Crosse campus is where tanker trucks pull up to the door every day, bringing raw milk that will be pasteurized and packaged. The cream is turned into ice cream. The dairy also churns out Nature’s Touch brand milk. In addition, Kwik Trip bottles orange juice, water and teas, and even runs its own ice-making facility.
Also on this expansive campus is the company’s commissary, where the signature Kitchen Cravings sandwiches and salads are assembled, a food safety lab, research and development facilities, ice and bottling plants as well as warehouses covering hundreds of thousands of square feet.

The 360,000-square-foot distribution center, with its 200-plus employees, is the hub that delivers more than 6,000 products regularly. That type of seamless operation wouldn’t be able to compete without a distribution system to transport product to every single store in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa. The company added a trucking fleet, which led to Convenience Transportation, Kwik Trip’s trucking division. Every store receives a delivery every day.

Not only is Convenience Transportation charged with vehicle maintenance, but it also supports all fuel operations, for both the fleet and retail pumps. In 2012, the company added certified natural gas (CNG) to its fuel line-up.

Another service extended to Kwik Trip co-workers at its corporate campus is access to direct healthcare. Two years ago, the Kwik Trip Center for Health opened a short trip from its headquarters. A second Center For Health opened in Appleton, Wis., several months ago.

With its commitment to retail excellence comes national attention. So far in 2018 Kwik Trip was the voted No. 1 Top Workplaces in Wisconsin by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. It placed No. 65 on Forbes’ List of Best Places to Work in the U.S., and was the No. 3 ranked gas station by GasBuddy. The chain also received a national award from the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR) for its strong commitment to employing job seekers with disabilities.

Please join us in congratulating Kwik Trip as the 2018 Chain of the Year.

CSD’s Chain of the Year award annually honors a convenience store or petroleum chain that has established itself as a superior retailer and innovator in its markets of operation. CSD’s first Chain of the Year award was given to Wawa Inc. in 1990. Kwik Trip follows 2017 Chain of the Year winner Sheetz Inc. Other winners of this prestigious award include RaceTrac, 7-Eleven Inc., Krause Gentle, Alimentation Couche-Tard, QuikTrip, Rutter’s, Thorntons and Maverik.

Past Chain of The Year Winners
* 1990 – Wawa Inc.
* 1991 – SuperAmerica
* 1992 – QuikTrip Corp.
* 1993 – Casey’s General Stores Inc.
* 1994 – Sheetz Inc.
* 1995 – Diamond Shamrock Corp.
* 1996 – Mapco Express
* 1997 – Speedway Inc.
* 1998 – Krause Gentle Corp.
* 1999 – Dairy Mart Inc.
* 2000 – Amerada Hess Corp.
* 2001 – Huck’s Food & Fuel
* 2002 – Petro-Canada
* 2003 – Exxon Mobil Corp.
* 2004 – Kwik Trip Inc.
* 2005 – 7-Eleven Inc.
* 2006 – Valero Inc.
* 2007 – Alimentation Couche-Tard
* 2008 – Chevron Inc.
* 2009 – Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes
* 2010 – Rutter’s Farm Stores
* 2011 – Thorntons Inc.
* 2012 – Tedeschi Food Shops
* 2013 – Maverik Inc.
* 2014 – RaceTrac Petroleum Inc.
* 2015 – Family Express Corp.
* 2016 – QuickChek Corp.
* 2017 – Sheetz Inc.