Meet TWIC Woman of the Year: Missy Matthews
WHITESBURG, Ky. — The convenience store and restaurant industries have been part of Missy Matthews’ life since she was 12 years old and her parents put her to work bussing tables at their family-owned restaurants.
She worked as a c-store cashier every summer during high school and college and, after graduating from Georgetown College in Kentucky with a degree in marketing and science, she joined the family business, Childers Oil Co., as director of operations. Today she is president of the chain, which operates 43 Double Kwik stores.
“I’m second generation,” she told Convenience Store News, explaining that the company is 52 years old, and each summer she would work in a different part of the organization, including roles as store manager, overseeing construction, and accounts receivables.
Since her father’s office was the smallest one in the building by his choice, he asked her to build a new, larger one so that she could work beside him and learn the business — listening to his phone calls and conversations on a daily basis.
They still share the same 14-foot by 14-foot office, although he now works part-time.
“I now have the head of each department reporting to me, but have been involved at the operations level for so long that I tend to enjoy being involved there,” Matthews said. “Merchandising and marketing come natural to me, so if we are resetting a store or designing a new store, that is the sandbox I enjoy being in.”
She also deals with any issues that come up out of the norm, while her team handles the day-to-day challenges. And with ongoing construction for the past 25 years, Matthews also oversees each construction project.
REFLECTION & ADVICE
While her favorite part of the job is the team of people she works with, she also loves the customers and the overall c-store industry because there is never a dull moment, and it allows her to express creativity each day.
“The group of people I work with every day are amazing, and the sky is the limit to what we can do within our stores,” Matthews said. “I love the freedom to do different things for our customers, and offer different options and menu selection. I also love seeing how the customers respond to that. It’s fun and never boring.”
Looking back on her career thus far, Matthews is most proud of the three acquisitions the retailer made in 2002, adding more than 50 stores to the chain. While some of the stores have since been divested or closed, the overall process included reopening more than 40 stores that had been shuttered for at least six months due to bankruptcy.
“They were standing there fully stocked with no electricity or water. We went in with a planned-out, methodical schedule and cleaned, staffed, stocked and opened every one of those stores,” she shared. “It was exhausting leaving the house before daylight and coming home after dark, but it was gratifying to get them open for that region that had all of those stores close. It was such an inconvenience to those customers and to the vendors affected by the closings as well.”
Childers Oil has also been on a construction spree recently, building four new stores from the ground up, along with two raze-and-rebuilds. Two more new stores are on the lineup as well. The interiors of these stores are “cutting-edge,” Matthews said, offering unexpected elements such as barn wood and granite dining tables. Since the wood was in high demand and expensive, the retailer bought a barn and tore it down for the wood.
“We turned our metal fabrication shop into a woodworking shop and did it all ourselves,” she said. “People walk in and say they would love to have all of it in their homes.”
Childers Oil belongs to the Kentucky Petroleum Marketers Association and NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing. Matthews regularly participates in industry leadership events.
Since her early days in the business, she has seen it evolve from where she was the only woman in the room at meetings, to now having more females at the table. She has a lot of women on her team, and advises her peers to always remember why they are involved in the industry.
“It’s obvious why we are here — we can do the job and we are qualified, if not over-qualified,” she said. “I try to let my actions speak, and treat others how I would like to be treated.”