Maverik President Aims to Build a Legacy Around People
SALT LAKE CITY — Nearly two years since FJ Management Inc. announced it was acquiring a majority interest in Maverik Inc., the Salt Lake City-based convenience store chain is in the midst of its most aggressive store opening program, including the debut of its first location sans fuel.
A total of 26 new store openings are planned for 2016, along with 25 remodels of smaller stores, Maverik President Tom Welch told Convenience Store News during a visit to the fast-growing c-store retailer during the last week of June to view the company’s new headquarters (a.k.a. Base Camp), its first non-fuel store, and two newly rebuilt stores in southern Utah.
Welch was one of the early top executives at innovative food retailer, Smith’s Food & Drug, one of the first grocery retailers to combine food with general merchandise. He helped grow Smith’s from five stores to 300 stores doing $3 billion in sales, and being listed on the New York Stock Exchange. He left in 1989 when asked by Salt Lake officials to help the city attract the 2002 Winter Olympics.
That same year, Welch was asked to join the Maverik board of directors and he served on the board for 24 years until FJ Management — a management firm with longtime family ties to both Maverik and Flying J Travel Centers — purchased the c-store retailer from the Call family in December 2012.
“A couple of months later, I’m out to dinner with my wife and I get a phone call from Crystal [Maggelet, FJ Management’s president and CEO and daughter of Flying J founder Jay Call]. She told me that the Calls were leaving Maverik and asked me to be president, and help her put a strong management team in place at the c-store retailer,” Welch recounted to CSNews.
Since taking on the role, that has been his focus and he happily reports that chainwide, the retailer is attracting a higher caliber of new employee. For example, the store director of Maverik’s first non-fuel store, which opened last month, was formerly a department manager at Nordstrom, the department store chain famous for its terrific customer service.
“We also have a continuing education program for employees. We have district supervisors and regionals who are studying for their MBAs,” he noted. “I think that as this industry evolves into new categories and businesses, you have to have better-prepared people. The c-store business today is so much more complicated than it was when I joined the Maverik board of directors 27 years ago.”
Welch wants his legacy to be the people he has brought to Maverik.
“I’m so proud of my team,” he said.