Midwesterners who need to make a quick trip to get gas or
groceries, cigarettes or donuts, race on over to Kwik Trip stores.
Kwik Trip owns and operates about 500 Kwik Trip, Kwik Star, Hearty
Platter, and Tobacco Outlet Plus convenience stores in Iowa,
Minnesota, and Wisconsin. The company also runs about a dozen
Hearty Platter restaurants and cafes, some 40 Tobacco Outlet Plus
(TOP) cigar stores, and car washes at some Kwik Trip store
locations. All Kwik Trip stores built since 1990 are owned by
Convenience Store Investments, a separate firm, which leases the
land and stores to Kwik Trip. Kwik Trip, which opened its first
store in 1965 in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, is owned by the family of
CEO Don Zietlow.
To supply its stores with baked goods and other foods, Kwik Trip
operates a 60,000-square-foot commissary and research facility at
its headquarters in southwestern Wisconsin. The bakery produces the
Kwickery Bake Shoppe line of bagels, buns, cookies, donuts,
muffins, and more, and its dairy packages the Nature's Touch brand
of fresh milk, ice cream, orange juice, and water. The company has
opened a new 65,000-square-foot dairy facility in its hometown of
La Crosse to supply its own stores (and those owned by others) with
ice cream, yogurt, and other dairy products. Longer term, the
company hopes to develop its own plastic bottle manufacturing
plant. Food service currently accounts for about a third of the
company's annual profit, ahead of fuel.
Kwik Trip vertically integrates by processing its own gasoline
and producing and packaging products to be sold in its convenience
Subsidiary Convenience Transportation LLC provides
transportation to the company. Since 2006, Kwik Trip has also
partnered with Marshfield Food Safety, LLC, a full-service
microbiological laboratory that provides third-party on-site food
safety laboratory services.
The company operates in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.
Kwik Trip is growing quickly. In 2014 it opened 34 convenience
stores in the Twin Ports market of Duluth, Minnesota, and Superior,
Wisconsin. That year the company added compressed natural gas (CNG)
to three more convenience store and fueling station, bringing its
total to 28 sites in Wisconsin that sell CNG.
Kwik Trip is testing a new 5,000-square-foot store format
designed to appeal to soccer moms and other female customers. The
new, more upscale look includes wood fixtures and subdued
florescent lighting combined with accent lighting. To supply its
larger store base the company is building a new 65,000-square-foot
dairy facility in its hometown of La Crosse.
To compensate for shrinking fuel and tobacco margins, the
regional convenience store chain has been expanding its food
offerings -- adding soup and chili to its menu of pizza, tacos,
salads, and other hot and fresh items --and plans to enter the
take-home meals market with entrees such as lasagna, chicken, beef,
pork, fish, and meat loaf. Indeed, over the past several years the
company has greatly expanded its food production activities and has
begun selling food on a wholesale basis to other retailers,
including noncompeting retailers and school districts. The company
estimates that by 2030 the wholesale business could account for as
much as half of the food that Kwik Trip produces.
The John Hansen family founded Kwik Trip in Eau Claire,
Wisconsin in 1965. In 2000, the Hansens sold their interest in Kwik
Trip to the Zietlow family for $120 million. The two families had
jointly owned Kwik Trip since 1972.