July 2018 issue: 2018 Chains to Watch

Honoring the Kwik Trip Culture

HONESTY, INTEGRITY, RESPECT, HUMILITY AND innovation. These are the words that define Kwik Trip…and it shows.

The La Crosse, Wis. convenience store chain exemplifies what it means to be a “people company.” It is fully committed to customers, employees 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. We will honor the company on Oct. 8 at Stratosphere Theater in Las Vegas.

This dynamic chain has been an inspiration for more than half a century. From a vertically integrated distribution system to raising the bar on fresh food to establishing employee-centric benefit packages, Kwik Trip has forged a wide path for competitors to follow.

Company founder and CEO Don Zietlow opened the doors to the first store in 1965. Not only did Zietlow attain his dream, but he surpassed it many times over. Today, Kwik Trip operates more than 630 total locations in Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota.

The chain currently employs more than 21,000 people and serves seven million guests each week. What’s even more impressive is that Kwik Trip’s turnover rate is just 30%.

In a convenience culture, where customers expect great service, high 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. 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 in Action
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 and where there are 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 products to every store in its network. The company added a trucking fleet, which led to Convenience Transportation, Kwik Trip’s trucking division.

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.

With its commitment to retail excellence comes national attention. So far in 2018 Kwik Trip was voted the 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. The chain also received a national award from the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR) for its strong devotion to employing job seekers with disabilities.

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

John Lofstock
[email protected]