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TULSA, Okla. — The convenience store industry is often viewed as a family affair.
There were the Thompson brothers who drove the early growth of 7-Eleven. There’s Sheetz (a whole slew of family members including Steve, Stan and current CEO Joe); E-Z Mart’s Yates (founder Jim and current CEO, daughter Sonja Hubbard), RaceTrac Petroleum’s Bolch (Carl Senior, Junior and current CEO, daughter Allison Moran). And many more.
No family name, though, holds a higher place in the pantheon of c-store industry leaders as Cadieux.
The Convenience Store News Hall of Fame was launched in 1987, with the goal being to recognize convenience store industry pioneers and innovators from retailer and supplier companies of all sizes. The late Chester Cadieux, founder and chairman of QuikTrip Corp., based in Tulsa, was the first inductee.
This year’s retailer Hall of Fame inductee, Chet Cadieux III, has not only carried on his father’s legacy of innovation and success, but he’s enhanced it.
Chet, a Tulsa native, today serves as chairman, president and CEO of the company founded by his father in 1958. With annual sales in excess of $12 billion, QuikTrip is the 28th largest privately held company in the United States. It currently operates more than 725 stores primarily in major cities including Tulsa, Kansas City, Wichita, Des Moines, St. Louis, Atlanta and Dallas.
Convenience Store News: Looking back, when did you realize that the convenience store industry was the right career for you to pursue?
Cadieux: I was 18. I had been working in the stores for a couple of years at that point. I really enjoyed working in that environment and gained a deep appreciation for how much work it took to run a great store. That made me want to figure out some way to contribute to the company.
CSNews: Who had the greatest influence on your business life, and what did you learn from him/her?
Cadieux: That’s easy. My dad. Most of what I know came from him, either directly or through someone else he had worked with in the company. He taught me the true joy that can be found from genuinely caring about your employees. I work every day to try to create opportunities for success for our people. It is a great reason to get out of bed in the morning, and I have my dad to thank for helping me find that purpose.
CSNews: What brings you the most satisfaction when you look back on your business career?
Cadieux: Knowing that we’ve made a difference in the lives of thousands of employees and their families.
CSNews: The current industry trend is to upgrade and expand foodservice offerings. Where do you see the industry going in the future? How far will c-stores push foodservice? Are there other trends that will impact the business?
Cadieux: I think that it will be very interesting to see how the two trends of increasing foodservice and increasing wages intersect. Labor inflation may very well be what limits the amount of foodservice growth that many in our industry are capable of achieving.
CSNews: What has made QuikTrip stand out as a leader among so many other companies in the c-store industry? What's the company's differentiating characteristic, in your opinion?
Cadieux: Again, that’s easy. Our people. I know that a lot of people say that, but I really think that our employees are extraordinary. Whether they are a store team member, a maintenance tech, a computer programmer, an accountant, a truck driver, a warehouse employee, a kitchens employee, a recruiter, a supervisor — from top to bottom, I’d put my peeps up against anybody cause I KNOW they are gonna get the job done.
Look in the December issue of Convenience Store News for more Hall of Fame coverage.