Leading With a People-First Approach

The first night of NACS Leadership Forum focused on maintaining a great company-wide culture.

February 14, 2024

On the opening night of NACS Leadership Forum, the theme was Leading With Purpose. On stage was Henry Armour, NACS president and CEO, and Travis Sheetz, president and CEO of Sheetz.

Sheetz has been recognized for its workplace culture, including being named to Fortune’s list of the 100 best companies to work for.

Sheetz was founded in Altoona, Pennsylvania, in 1952. But with the company’s expansion—it opened its 700th store last year—"we’re getting further and further away from Altoona," Travis Sheetz said. It’s a literal statement, but also a figurative one. How does a company keep a great culture alive when it has more than 20,000 employees?

Some key insights:

It’s important to balance what Travis Sheetz called the hard and soft aspects of employee recruitment. The hard part centers around compensation, while the soft part centers around making an employee feel valued. The company thinks in terms of an employee value proposition, or what it can promise an employee: “We’re high energy, we’re family-oriented, we really focus on employees. We have tremendous growth opportunities,” Travis Sheetz said. He noted that, particularly after Covid, people want to be “in the right place,” meaning at a company that values them.

“We move the culture with us.” When Sheetz entered the Columbus, Ohio, market, it relocated 100 store managers into the city.

Thinking in terms of three audiences. Travis Sheetz said people (team members), customers and community are the three audiences Sheetz thinks about. “The community is where you get your future employees and customers. It’s important.” Sheetz is very active in the communities it serves. (Read about Sheetz For the Kidz.)

Travis Sheetz noted how different CEOs of the company have each brought a different focus—less because of who that CEO was as a person and more because of what the company needed at the time. For Travis Sheetz, that means focusing on people. “The business model is good. Our business model works. … We’re growing. We need to focus on people.”