TULSA, Okla. — Growing up in a business and company provides many built-in lessons for how to handle yourself. Here are three golden rules QuikTrip CEO Chet Cadieux, CSP's 2019 Retail Leader of the Year, learned from his parents and the industry at large ...
Like Father, Like Son
Beyond sharing a self-deprecating sense of humor, Chester and Chet Cadieux had the same heart for QuikTrip’ employees.
In a 2007 interview with CSP, Chester, who was chairman at the time, explained why QuikTrip would never be sold, despite the industry’s continuing consolidation.
“I told Chet when he came on board when he got out of college: You have to understand that we’re not going to sell out,” Chester said. “We’re in business for our employees; it would screw our employees to sell out to somebody who’d cut wages and do the sort of thing people do when they buy other people’s companies.”
“Everyone trusted Chester,” says Mike Stanford, QuikTrip board member and company veteran. And today, everyone trusts Chet. “He’s obviously taken in everything his father taught him and he’s taken it to heart. If he’s done anything, he’s built on and strengthened our culture through the [past] 17 years.”
While Chet Cadieux may have learned humility and business smarts from his father, Chester Cadieux, his mother taught him two rules that guide his daily interactions with QuikTrip employees.
Rule No. 1: Be Honest
“You need to always be honest, because it’s so much better and it causes people to trust you,” Chet says. “And one of the greatest gifts you can have is for someone to trust you, because that’s something only they can give.”
Rule No. 2: Be Respectful
It’s “the golden rule type of thing—do unto others as you’d have them do unto you,” Chet says. “She was … very intolerant of people acting better than someone else. I love that about her. That’s a gift she gave me that I try to live by, and sometimes I fail. Like if I’m talking down to somebody, then shame on me, and I catch myself and immediately think my mom would be so quick to tell me to clean up my act.”
QuikTrip donates 5% of its net profits to charity each year.
There are many laudable causes, but for QuikTrip, one offers the greatest return: at-risk youth.
“If we can make a difference in their lives, someday they will be an adult, and the world will be a better place,” Chet Cadieux says. The company’s top charities include:
Folds of Honor
Founded by Lt. Col. Dan Rooney in 2007, this organization provides scholarships to families of service members who have been killed or wounded. “The scholarships are designed so that the family doesn’t fall into a cycle of poverty,” Chet says. QuikTrip also sponsors the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500, a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series stock car race. Approximately 5,000 scholarships have been awarded with QuikTrip’s support.
Each of QuikTrip’s markets runs its own campaign to support this charity. Employees donate money, which QuikTrip matches, or their time at fundraising events.
QuikTrip first partnered with this program in 1991. I child is in crisis, whether homeless, hungry or in an abusive situation, he or she can visit a QuikTrip and ask for help. Employees are trained to provide food, a beverage and a safe place to wait while a partner agency dispatches a volunteer to take the child to the appropriate help. In 2018, QuikTrip helped nearly 600 youth in its stores across the country.