Kwik Trip Continues to Expand

The Midwest chain is on pace to open 250-plus locations by 2024.

April 17, 2019

LA CROSSE, Wis. – Kwik Trip has an ambitious expansion plan, one that would invest $2.5 billion in capital and add 250 to 260 stores, La Crosse Tribune reports. “We have a lot of room to grow,” said Carl Rick, leadership development specialist for Kwik Trip. “We’re not in some of the biggest cities in Wisconsin, we’re not in some of the biggest cities in the state of Minnesota, and we’re not in some of the biggest cities in the state of Iowa. So, we have room to grow in the states we operate.”

Kwik Trip will bolster its store count with 42 new locations in 2019—that’s not including the rebuilding of existing Kwik Trip units. “The challenge for them is of growth, and many, many good companies have been felled by the challenge of growth,” said Hart Posen with the UW-Madison School of Business. “The key is understanding how to grow, but in the last 15 to 20 years, they’ve made a lot of very smart decisions.”

The company is working on balancing capital improvements with its own production schedule, as well as juggling a larger delivery area for its in-house commissary based in La Crosse at its headquarters. “It’s a chicken-and-egg thing,” Rick said. “Do you invest capital in the stores, or do you invest capital in production facilities in La Crosse? Because you’re going to be inefficient in one area or the other. So, we’re always playing that game of how big is too big. That really is our toughest growth challenge. From there, it’s finding the real estate.”

Kwik Trip has begun the process of enlarging its commissary kitchens, as well as a building a distribution center, to meet the current and anticipated future demands. “As we continue to grow, what we talk about six months ago is not what we talk about today,” said Brad Clarkin, director of production operations. “You’re always trying to stay ahead of it on that end. Forecasting what we’re going to be producing, and then (asking) what are the associated units and how do we execute that for retail? It’s just one of the many things we try and stay ahead of.”