Kum & Go President: Service Drives Growth

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa -- In markets where convenience stores sell gas at prices only pennies apart, it is service that sets Kum & Go's chain of more than 400 stores apart, according to Kyle J. Krause, president and CEO of Kum & Go LC, who recently gave some insight into the c-store chain and its culture in a Tulsa World report.

"For Kum & Go, it comes down to service," he said in the report, when asked about differentiation. "We have had a lot of success being fast, friendly and convenient for our customers. It's something we take pride in but also continually work to improve."

Kum & Go began nearly 50 years ago, when Krause's grandfather, Tony Gentle, and father, W.A. Krause, founded a convenience store business "with a true passion for providing exceptional customer service," Kyle J. Krause said in the report. Now, Kum & Go is the fifth-largest private convenience store chain in the nation, according to the newspaper.

Krause also discussed the impact the recession has had on its business, and said due to its primarily Midwestern locations, the company has not felt the recession quite as hard as businesses on the coasts.

"However, we understand the importance of staying on top of market movements to ensure our product pricing is as competitive as possible for our customers," he added.

Regarding the Tulsa, Okla., market—where another large c-store player, QuikTrip Corp., is headquartered—Krause said Kum & Go plans to continue growth in the metro area. Currently, the convenience store chain has 28 stores in the area, and a new store in Broken Arrow will open in the region this fall, according to the report.

"QuikTrip is a good company, and we know Tulsa is their headquarters," said Krause in the report. "However, we saw Tulsa as a vibrant community and we believe that Kum & Go can offer its residents more choice in the convenience space. As I'm sure QuikTrip would agree, there's always room for some healthy competition."

Another area of growth for Kum & Go is social networking, where the convenience store retailer already operates a Twitter profile.

"Our goal is to provide another avenue for Kum & Go and its customers to communicate with each other. We want to make sure we can engage customers comfortably with social media networks, to allow us to keep them abreast of offerings and allow them to provide us with much-needed feedback," he said. "We've built quite a fan base and tweet quite often, so be sure to check us out. We try to keep it fun and fresh, so you never know what we will be up to next."

He added customers can tweet "Tulsa World coffee deal" to @kumandgo to receive a coupon for a free 20-ounce Java Ridge coffee.

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Kum & Go Offering $1.59 Gas in Tulsa, Okla.
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