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    Five Questions with QuikTrip

    Company spokesperson Mike Thornbrugh speaks out on the convenience chain's recession plan and its newest markets.

    WICHITA, Kan. -- Mike Thornbrugh, spokesperson for convenience store chain operator QuikTrip Corp., recently sat down with a reporter from Kansas.com to tackle five business-related questions:

    How does QuikTrip attack a recession?

    "We have a long-term plan, and we stick with it," Thornbrugh said. "There are some things right now that are very helpful to QuikTrip. A tough economy makes land we wish to purchase a lot more affordable. We don't just stop what we're doing. ... Although it may take a couple of years to do what we expect, we don't believe in delaying it. It's corporate patience."

    What's Wichita's role within QuikTrip?

    "We've been committed to the Wichita community for a long, long time. In the bigger scheme of things, Wichita is very important to our company," he said. "It's an area in which we do very well, sure, but it gives our employees opportunities to grow within the company. It's not uncommon for employees to transfer all across the company and the Wichita division. We've made and continue to make a huge capital and human resources investment in Wichita. We're not going away."

    The company is very public about paying higher wages than the industry norm. Why?

    "Our philosophy has never changed—to get the best in the business and keep those people with you for a long time," Thornbrugh stated. "QuikTrip has always believed in higher salaries, better benefits and better job opportunities, and it's paid off for us. You look at the nametags in our store, and you'll see people with 10, 15, 20 years. We've got a lot of people with 40 years. We consider this an extension of the company culture. If you want to be the best, you need to hire the best, pay the best, provide the opportunities and provide the benefits. It's a culture we all believe in."

    What does QT's future hold in Wichita?

    "We're still building in Wichita," he said. "If not a brand-new store, a relocation or a remodel. We've remodeled every store in the company twice in the last ten years, and I suspect we'll do it again."

    What are the company's new markets, and is the company searching for more new markets?

    "The newest markets that we’re in are Dallas-Fort Worth and the greater Phoenix area, and we've been there eight to 10 years," according to Thornbrugh. "Tucson is a new market for us, though, sort of an extension of the Phoenix market.

    "We find Tucson a very attractive market, a market in which we can build the amount of stores we need to obtain the market share we need," he continued. "And people kind of scoff and roll their eyes when we say it, but one of the reasons we need new markets is employee opportunity growth. If you don't continue to grow the opportunities, losing good people is a real possibility—if they don't have an opportunity to move up in the company.

    "These are good moves. They help sales, but they also give our employees new opportunities," Thornbrugh concluded. "We have a lot of time and money invested in these people, and we want them to stick around an awfully long time."

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