Whether popping in for a bunch of 38 cents per pound bananas or stocking up on fresh groceries as the gas tank fills, customers have come to know the brand for exactly what it claims to be – a quick trip in and a quick trip out.
But this one-stop shop has continually evolved to offer more and more. And that’s no accident. The family-owned, La Crosse-based company has deliberately and inextricably woven itself throughout the state’s tapestry, utilizing a unique vertical integration model, setting Kwik Trip apart as a top innovator.
“Innovation is actually identified as one of Kwik Trip’s core values,” says Kwik Trip spokesman Steven Wrobel, adding that employees at all levels are recognized at year-end meetings for suggestions they’ve made that the company has implemented. “It’s really in the fiber of our company. We’re just going to continue to look wherever we can to grow the business.”
That means the 3.5 million pizzas, 98 million pastries and 46 million units of juice and milk sold at more than 450 retail stores this year were produced and distributed by Kwik Trip itself. Expanding at a rate of 30 stores per year and producing thousands of profit-sharing local jobs and ownership opportunities along the way, the company has its own fleet of “fresh trucks” delivering daily from its La Crosse warehouse and distribution center.
At the company-owned dairy, milk from suppliers like Foremost Farms in Sparta is processed and packed on site. In 2014, Kwik Trip invested in a blow mold machine to manufacture its own one-gallon milk jugs, allowing “24 hours literally from the cow to the store and on the shelf to purchase,” says Wrobel. The company partners with Wisconsin producers whenever possible, harvesting potatoes and onions from the central part of the state, and of course selling that “good Wisconsin cheese.” Unfortunately, fresh bananas don’t grow anywhere near here – but they certainly keep customers walking through the door.
“As we expand, we’re thinking of local suppliers wherever we can,” says Wrobel. “Because they come in and support our stores, and it just makes sense.”