WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. — QuickChek, the family-owned fresh convenience market chain based in Whitehouse Station, gave away free large hot coffees and 20-ounce iced coffees to all patrons visiting its store in Dunellen, N.J. — the chain's very first store — on Wednesday, March 15 from 12:01 a.m. through midnight to mark its golden anniversary.
However, the coffee giveaway doesn't come close to illustrating the full story of this regional innovator that is moving into its next half-century with new vigor — opening new stores, expanding into new markets, and hiring additional team members.
QuickChek has opened 40 new stores and hired an additional 1,400 people since 2007. The retailer in February opened new 5,496-square-foot stores in North Brunswick and Cedar Knolls, N.J., and the chain will be opening its first store in Nassau County this April.
Its steady growth enables it to attract and maintain top talent. One of those talented people is Rob Easley, who joined the company in February in the newly created position of senior vice president of merchandising and marketing. Easley possesses nearly 25 years of retail experience in marketing, strategy and operations, including 16 years with leading independent grocer H-E-B, as well as chief operating officer at Rite-Aid, at Westlake Ace Hardware and with Earth Fare, one of the leading natural and organic food retailers in the nation.
"We are very pleased to have Rob Easley join our senior management team," said QuickChek CEO Dean Durling, "While we are celebrating our first 50 years, Rob's strong background in marketing, strategic planning and operations will help us grow to the next level as we look to our future."
QuickChek also announced several internal promotions. Don Leech, who has been with the company for 31 years, including the last 14 as a director of operations, has been promoted to vice president of real estate and development. Leech began his career at the company's Middletown, N.J., store in 1985 and has held positions of assistant store leader, district leader, and a director of operations.
Robert Porcelli has been promoted to director of operations for Region 2. He began his career as an assistant store leader in Franklin, N.J., in 2005 and has been promoted several times during his career to a store leader, district leader in New Jersey, and most recently a district leader in New York.
The company also announced the internal promotions of Matt Murphy, Jennifer Quiles and Kevin Woodring as district leaders.
"We are committed to being a great place to work, a great place to shop, and a great place to invest," said Durling, whose company enjoys the rare distinction of being named one of the best places to work in both New Jersey and New York State. "We strive to create a positive experience and environment where core values are nurtured, hard work is rewarded, and leadership is cultivated. As our team managers have input into this selection, this recognition confirms we remain on the right track."
QuickChek did say goodbye recently to longtime sales and marketing executive John Schaninger, who left the company after 38 years to pursue other interests. Schaninger joined QuickChek in 1978 as an assistant manager and grew into a number of positions with increased responsibility, including district leader, Region 1 vice president of operations, and in 2004, vice president of sales and marketing.
The QuickChek story actually began almost 130 years ago when Durling Farms was founded by Augustus Durling in central New Jersey in 1888. Over the following 79 years, the Durling Farms brand grew to be synonymous with quality milk and dairy products, delivered fresh to the customer's door.
In 1967, Augustus' grandson, Carlton C. Durling, founded QuickChek to ensure that loyal Durling Farms customers had a neighborhood shopping destination not only for their milk, but for a full range of deli and other food products. He opened the very first QuickChek store on March 15, 1967 in Dunellen.
Today, under the leadership of Dean Durling, Carlton's son and Augustus' great-grandson, QuickChek is a market leader through innovation and its focus on fresh products and friendly employees at 148 stores in the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area.
QuickChek was named the Convenience Store News Foodservice Innovator of the Year in 2016. The annual Foodservice Innovators Awards program, sponsored by Tyson Convenience, recognizes the best of the best in convenience foodservice. Two years earlier, QuickChek was named Best Hot Beverages Innovator of the Year in the awards program and that same year, its renowned fresh brewed coffee was voted best in America in a national consumer survey.
"Our company has been built on total customer dedication and we remain committed to what our customer wants, which is high-quality, great tasting food and beverages close to where they live and work," commented Durling.
This commitment has driven the company to define the term "fresh convenience" and remain the market leader in foodservice, fresh coffee, fast fuel, and friendly people.
"Being an innovator means not only creating new menu items and having freshly made in-store bakery items, but also embracing technology to continue to meet the needs of our customers," Durling told Convenience Store News. "You can use an in-store touchscreen or your smartphone to create a custom sandwich or drink, which we will handcraft to your order. We have self-checkout counters and continue to expand our mobile ordering to provide even greater convenience for our on-the-go customers."
It's true that QuickChek's menu is designed for personalization, whether it's made-to-order sandwiches, the extensive coffee wall, or the handcrafted hot and cold beverages available at the in-store Q Cafés. Customers get what they want any time of day or night.
The Neighborhood Destination
QuickChek believes in being not just the preferred neighborhood shopping destination, but a part of the community itself. The retailer supports more than 150 youth sports organizations throughout New Jersey, New York's Hudson Valley, and Long Island.
Whenever the company opens a new store, it raises funds for a local youth organization in that town, donating 25 cents from every sub, sandwich and wrap sold during the new store's first 30 days to that organization.
QuickChek has also raised millions of dollars to support a variety of causes benefitting children, families, and military veterans.
The Anniversary Celebration
The celebration in Dunellen on March 15 is being followed by 50 additional offers over the next two months covering QuickChek's menu of fresh food, beverages and on-the-go snack items. The promos range from free coffee and fountain drinks to buy-one-get-one offers.
Consumers are also encouraged to enjoy additional convenience and savings by downloading the QuickChek mobile app, which always rewards loyal customers with a free coffee after they purchase six coffees.