4 Ways Kwik Trip Will Change PDQ ... and 2 Ways It Won't

By 
Greg Lindenberg, Editor, CSP

PDQ store

LA CROSSE, Wis. -- Kwik Trip Inc.’s acquisition in July of PDQ Food Stores Inc.’s 34 company-operated convenience stores allows Kwik Trip to expand its presence in southeastern Wisconsin, an important new market for the regional retailer.

“The PDQ store locations are an excellent fit in our growth strategy for Wisconsin,” Mark Zietlow, real-estate manager and third-generation owner, said at the time.

Kwik Trip plans to operate the stores under the existing PDQ banner until planned remodels and reimaging are completed in mid-2018. But the company eventually will spend between $30 million and $40 million to convert them to the Kwik Trip brand, Kwik Trip spokesperson John McHugh told CSP Daily News.

Here are four ways Kwik Trip will change the PDQ sites …

1. Rebranding

Kwik Trip

Under the plan, each PDQ store will close for 24 hours during the week of Oct. 9 for inventory counts to reset shelving, take deliveries and install Kwik Trip's point-of-purchase computer system. Then, between November 2017 and April 2018, the company will remodel and rebrand each all of the stores to Kwik Trip, said a report in the Wisconsin State Journal.

The company has not determined what it will do with a small store with little room for expansion in PDQ’s hometown of Middleton, Wis., David Ring, community-relations manager for Kwik Trip, told the newspaper.

The company also has not indicated which PDQ stores it will convert to Kwik Trip and which smaller stores it will convert, if any, to Kwik Trip's Tobacco Outlet Plus Grocery store brand, the report said.

2. Pay at the pump

Kwik Trip gas pump

Company representatives also said that the converted PDQ stores will not follow the typical Kwik Trip model that allows customers an option to pay at the pump or pay inside after fueling, according to the report.

3. Hot food

Kwik Trip food

While all PDQ stores will be converted to the Kwik Trip banner, only 10 of the 23 Madison-area stores will initially have hot food, Ring said.

4. Security and liquor sales

Kwik Trip cold vault

Madison, Wis.-area aldermen, neighborhood representatives and the Madison Police Department (MPD) met with Kwik Trip representatives on Sept. 1 to discuss the retailer’s acquisition of the PDQ stores. Kwik Trip emphasized its desire to become community partners and to take security concerns and beer and wine sales very seriously, Alderwoman Barbara Harrington-McKinney said.

“While a few PDQ stores … will continue to sell wine and cider, there will be no hard liquor sales in any of the stores that Kwik Trip is acquiring in the city,” she said on her website. “We are satisfied that Kwik Trip will work cooperatively with MPD in any investigations and will take the proper steps necessary if any security concerns are identified. We have been advised that the surveillance systems in each store will see a significant upgrade in the coming months and Kwik Trip will not allow any employees to ever work alone.”

Now here are two ways PDQ stores won’t change under Kwik Trip …

1. Rewards

Hy-Vee

A new deal between Kwik Trip and West Des Moines, Iowa-based grocer Hy-Vee will preserve the fuel rewards program when Kwik Trip takes over the 23 Madison, Wis.-area PDQ stores, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.

“Kwik Trip has a pending agreement with Hy-Vee that will allow our guests to continue to use their Hy-Vee Fuel Savers Rewards card at all PDQ stores that will be converted to Kwik Trip stores,” Ring said.

Kwik Trip resolved uncertainty over whether the program would continue at a public meeting attended by about a dozen people who questioned company representatives and shared their concerns about the upcoming transition.

Kwik Trip’s own Kwik Rewards program allows members to earn a rebate of 3 cents per gallon on every fuel purchase and 10% for all eligible in-store purchases made with the chain’s Kwik Card.

2. Employee seniority

Kwik Trip career fairs

Kwik Trip is honoring the seniority of PDQ employees it hires and waiving their normal waiting periods for health, dental, 401(k), vacation and sabbaticals, reported the newspaper. Hourly wages begin at $12 per hour and all employees qualify for annual bonuses that last year were 16.5%.

"We want them to come on board," Ring said of PDQ employees.

The company also has been holding career fairs and open interviews throughout the area, said the report. The company is hiring hundreds of workers to staff the stores, all of which will have more employees than they do now.

"We've picked locations so we can get to everybody," Kristy Barta, a district leader for Kwik Trip, told the Wisconsin State Journal. "A lot of people are coming in, and we've been doing a ton of interviews."

Timing

Kwik Trip Wisconsin

Kwik Trip’s acquisition of PDQ is scheduled to be completed in early October and is subject to the approval of Middleton, Wis.-based PDQ’s employee-owners and other customary closing conditions.

With the acquisition of the PDQ locations, Kwik Trip will have more than 600 stores.

Founded in 1965, Kwik Trip is one of the largest independently held c-store chains in the United States. Based in La Crosse, Wis., it owns and operates more than 570 stores in Wisconsin and Minnesota (as Kwik Trip) and in Iowa (as Kwik Star).