JERSEY CITY, N.J. — Don Zietlow, president and CEO of Kwik Trip Inc., and Jay Ard, vice president of national sales, convenience retail for The Coca-Cola Co., have been selected as this year's inductees into the Convenience Store News Hall of Fame. In addition, CSNews’ blue-chip panel of industry leaders chose Speedway LLC President Tony Kenney as winner of this year’s Retailer Executive of the Year award.
The three industry luminaries will be honored at a gala banquet and induction ceremony this fall in La Crosse, Wis., hometown of Zietlow’s 450-unit Midwest convenience store chain.
The CSNews Hall of Fame, launched in 1987 with the induction of Chester Cadieux of QuikTrip Corp., has recognized convenience store industry pioneers and innovators from retailer and supplier companies of all sizes. Retailer inductees have included Scott Hartman of Rutter’s, John MacDougall of Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes, Dick Wood of Wawa Inc., Carl Bolch Jr. of RaceTrac Petroleum Inc., Dean Durling of QuickChek Corp., Sonja Hubbard of E-Z Mart Stores Inc., and Steve and Stan Sheetz of Sheetz Inc.
Inductees into the supplier wing of the Hall of Fame have included Dave Riser of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Jerry Rose and Steve Brady of McLane Co. Inc., Joe Burke of Coca-Cola Enterprises, Greg Gilkerson of PDI Inc., Robert Sears of Altria Group Distribution Co., and Tom Joyce of The Hershey Co.
While the Hall of Fame honors pioneers and innovators for their lifetime of service to the industry, the Retailer Executive of the Year award recognizes a retailer executive who exemplifies leadership, business acumen, dedication to the industry, and commitment to community service. Last year’s inaugural Retailer Executive of the Year was Kim Lubel, chairman and CEO of CST Brands Inc., the San Antonio-based operator of nearly 1,900 locations in the United States and Canada.
ABOUT THIS YEAR’S HONOREES
Zietlow was born in Chaseburg, Wis., a rural community of approximately 200 people. He attended Central High School in La Crosse, graduating in 1952. After high school, he farmed until 1956, and then began working for Robinson Transfer as a truck driver. In 1963, he joined Gateway Foods Inc., a wholesale food distributor, and held various positions at Gateway until the company was sold in 1989.
At the present time, Zietlow is head of Kwik Trip, which is currently owned by his family. Kwik Trip is unique in the convenience store industry because the company maintains total quality control over a wide variety of products by producing and packaging these items in its own state-of-the-art facilities.
In addition to its corporate Support Center, which handles the administrative needs of its stores and co-workers, Kwik Trip has its own bakery, commissary, dairy, distribution warehouse with daily delivery, food safety testing lab, and vehicle maintenance divisions. In this way, the company can effectively control costs and waste, while supplying its stores and customers with products and services of the highest quality 365 days a year.
Kwik Trip currently operates 450 convenience stores and 39 tobacco outlets and employs 14,000 employees (called co-workers by the retailer). In its fiscal year ended Sept. 25, 2014, sales totaled $4.8 billion. The company shares 40 percent of its pretax profit with its co-workers.
Kwik Trip expects to add 2,000 co-workers per year for the next three years and also plans to build 35 plus stores per year during that time span.
Ard has worked in the Coca-Cola system for more than 35 years. In his current role, he leads a team that works eagerly to have clear and consistent interaction with key bottlers to prepare them for company initiatives and to build upon their present relationships. He is also a leader in building employee morale for the entire convenience retail team.
Ard joined the Coca-Cola system in April 1979 working for the Rainwater Coca-Cola Bottling Group. Since then, he’s held numerous positions, each with increasing responsibility. In July 2005, he assumed his current position.
Ard represents the Coca-Cola system within the convenience industry. He is vice chairman of the NACS Supplier Board. He also serves on the NACS Research Council and is a member of the NACS Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council.
Kenney began his career with Marathon in 1976. After holding a variety of positions, he transitioned in 1990 to Emro Marketing Co., the predecessor of Speedway. He served as Emro’s commercial manager, controller and treasurer, and went on to be appointed vice president of finance.
From 1998 through 2000, Kenney served as vice president, finance and information technology services for Speedway SuperAmerica. He was named vice president of business development of Marathon Ashland Petroleum (later renamed Marathon Petroleum Co. LP) in 2001 and president of Speedway SuperAmerica in 2005, which changed its name to Speedway LLC in February 2011.
Today, Speedway is one of the largest and fastest-growing c-store chains in the nation. Completing its purchase of the Hess Corp. retail network in September 2014, Speedway boosted its footprint from nine states to 22. It entered new markets on the East Coast and in the Southeast, plus expanded in its nine Midwest legacy states. With more than 2,750 stores, Speedway is now the second largest company-owned and -operated convenience store chain in the U.S.
Kenney serves on the boards of directors of NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing, and the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce. Additionally, he is a member of the boards of trustees of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and Dayton Children’s Foundation.