ALTOONA, Pa. — With Sheetz Inc.'s 500th store opening now in its rear-view mirror, the convenience store retailer will begin its journey toward 1,000 stores and beyond.
The Altoona-based c-store operator plans to open 30 more stores in 2015 alone.
"We could double our size within the geographic area we are in now," President and CEO Joe Sheetz told CSNews Online. "There are still a lot of opportunities out there and for now, we plan on growing our talented team and continuing to expand within the states we have a presence in."
As for what it will take for Sheetz Inc. to someday reach the 1,000-store milestone, the chief executive believes staying true to its roots and focusing on the needs of its customers will be the main avenues for success.
"I can't imagine what 1,000 will be like," Joe Sheetz remarked. "I just know it will be even bigger [than our 500th store celebration]."
Sheetz Inc. opened its 500th store in Thomasville, N.C., on Feb. 24. The grand-opening celebration was big in its own right.
"We welcomed over 1,000 members of the Thomasville community to celebrate our 500th store opening with games, prizes, free coffee, fountain drinks and food samples throughout the day," the CEO said. "The event concluded with a ribbon-cutting ceremony with Thomasville Mayor Joe Bennett and other local dignitaries, as well as check presentations to the Special Olympics of North Carolina and Thomasville High School, and a food donation to our local food bank partner Second Harvest."
The Thomasville c-store and gas station features many of the amenities that make the Sheetz brand popular in the neighborhoods in which it serves. Not only is the store open 24/7, but a drive-thru and made-to-order foodservice items are also offered at any hour of the day or night, 365 days a year.
In addition, Shweetz Bakery products delivered fresh daily, self-serve ice cream, a fountain soda bar, hot and cold ready-to-eat items, and premium coffee are among the options available at the store.
The head of the family-owned and -operated company noted that the location of the 500th store holds special significance. "It's fitting our 500th store is in North Carolina because the Tar Heel State is our fastest-growing state," said Joe Sheetz. "Most fitting, however, is the fact that Sheetz started in a small town of Altoona and Thomasville mirrors that small-town feeling. Also in honor of this connection, the former mayor of Altoona, Bill Schirf, attended the 500th store opening in Thomasville."
A HUMBLING MILESTONE
Sheetz Inc.'s history dates back to 1952 when Joe Sheetz' uncle Bob purchased one of his father's five dairy stores in Altoona. Bob Sheetz did not open his second store until 1963, but from there, he ratcheted up new store openings, with the c-store retailer operating 100 stores by 1983.
The current president and CEO called 500 stores a "significant milestone." He added that the company's success could not have been achieved without Sheetz' loyal customers, affectionately called Sheetz Freakz.
"Growth is the culture of our organization and has been since my uncle established the first store in 1952," recalled Joe Sheetz. "He focused on the fact the company would grow, grow well and grow the right way. We are fortunate to have the dedication and the brain power within the family to operate the business. The younger Sheetz generation is the ones with the ideas, telling us what needs to change, what else we need to be doing and how we can appeal to the Millennials."
The Sheetz organization also places an emphasis on investing in its employees. "If we get the right people, the right people can grow the store," he said. "We focus on developing people and establishing a culture where they can grow."
Sheetz Inc. operates convenience stores in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, Ohio and North Carolina.