OPINIONMergers & Acquisitions

Maverik’s Decision to Retire the Kum & Go Brand

Acquirer envisions multi-regional status, aims to compete in Midwest: analysis
Photograph courtesy of Maverik

More than 60 years and four generations of Krause ownership later, the Kum & Go brand will disappear by 2025, a half-dozen sources shared with CSP Daily News.

Months after family-run Maverik closed on the venerable Iowa-based chain with roughly 400 stores, the Utah retailer famous for its Adventure’s First Stop theme and sporty exterior design has chosen to retire the Kum & Go brand. Kum & Go was launched in 1963, four years after founders Bill Krause and his father in-law Tony Gentle entered the retail world.

None of the sources interviewed would agree to be quoted on the record, but multiple people with knowledge of Maverik’s broader strategy said that upon deeper consideration and comprehensive assessment of the two chains, the Maverik brand resonated more impactfully in its markets than Kum & Go did in the heart of its Midwestern terrain.

“I think there was some concern about the inadvertent double entendre of the Kum & Go name,” a former Maverik member shared. “I also believe that [Maverik CEO] Chuck Maggelet envisions growing Maverik into a multi-regional brand, and he’s not deterred by Casey’s, Kwik Trip or other well-respected brands in the Midwest.”

Different Directions

In early 2023, Maverik and Kum & Go sat neck and neck in CSP’s Top 202 ranking of the largest chains. Maverik stood at No. 21 with 404 stores in 12 states, followed by Kum & Go at No. 22 with 397 in 11 states. (Casey’s General Stores, Ankeny, Iowa, is No. 3 and Kwik Trip, La Crosse, Wisconsin, is No. 11.)

But priorities at both companies had dramatically changed.

A year ago, Maverik’s ownership was about to enjoy an enormous financial windfall.

How did it happen?

A company called FJ Management sold its bankrupt travel center network Flying J in 2009 to Pilot, leading to the name Pilot Flying J.  

Eight years later, in 2017, Berkshire Hathaway acquired a large minority stake in Pilot, with plans to assume majority control in early 2023, including acquiring FJ Management’s stake.

With ownership of what is now called Pilot Co. passing to Berkshire Hathaway last January, FJ Management found itself flush with tons of cash. That was especially relevant because FJ Management is owned by the Maggelet family, including Maverik CEO Charles Maggelet.

On the opposite end, while Kum & Go was being led by 4th-generation family member Tanner Krause, financial control rested with his father, Kyle Krause.

As the Maggelet family was about to see its liquidity swell, Kyle Krause was shifting his interests and portfolio. Increasingly less engaged in Kum & Go’s operations, Kyle Krause, via the Krause Group, had increased investments in Italian vineyards and the Italian soccer team Parma Calcio 1913, purchasing 90% ownership stake in the squad in fall 2020.

In addition, Kyle Krause last year was working with officials in Iowa’s Polk County seeking tens of millions of dollars in additional funds to complete an ambitious $500-million project in downtown Des Moines, including a professional soccer stadium to be owned by Krause Group’s real-estate arm, Krause+.

“Kyle’s passion has always been soccer,” a source close to the family shared with CSP Daily News. “If there was a victim in all of this, it was their convenience chain,” the source added. “Tanner loved running Kum & Go and was bringing in his own culture, including outreaches to the African-American and LGBTQ+ communities.

With Maverik eager to make a splash and the Krause family needing cash to pursue its other interests, the two respected operations struck a deal. As part of the estimated $2-billion transaction, Maverik agreed to keep Kum & Go’s 5,000 associates.

What was less certain was the immediate future of the Kum & Go brand.

Last April, Maggelet said Kum & Go’s modest portfolio in Maverik’s strongholds of Utah and the Intermountain West region would be rebranded to Maverik.

As for the remainder of Kum & Go’s network, Maggelet was initially ambivalent, telling NACS at the time, “We think we can bring a lot of what's really good about Maverik into the Kum & Go world without necessarily rebranding and will continue to evaluate future changes.”

But by late fall/early winter, a consensus emerged within Maverik’s leadership: the Kum & Go brand would be retired.

“Their [Maverik’s] big-picture plans are for further acquisitions and market expansion,” a source told CSP Daily News. “It’s probably easier to focus on one brand for efficiencies and brand/consumer awareness across the country.”

Another source echoed that sentiment, noting, “If you’re growing cross-regionally, which brand do you think will have more appeal to a new audience: Maverik or Kum & Go? No disrespect to Kum & Go, but the answer is pretty clear.

“This new phase for Maverik is just starting, and I think it’s going to be very interesting and very exciting.”

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