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Iowa’s Top Workplaces: Kwik Trip

No. 2 Kwik Trip Inc. – Large company

Katherine “Kat” Leaf spent six months recovering from an automobile accident in 2007 that included having a steel rod placed in her broken back.

Thankfully, said Leaf, she didn’t have to worry losing her job while she recovered. Her employer, Tabacco Outlet Plus on East Euclid Avenue held her position for her. But that wasn’t all.

The convenience store’s parent company, Kwik Trip Inc., also wrote Leaf a check to help her with expenses while she was recovering. That and a fundraiser held by co-workers and customers “kept me from getting to the point of not being able to pay my rent,” said Leaf.

It’s the feeling of family that has kept Leaf a loyal employee at the Tobacco Outlet for 16 years. She joined the company when she was 18 years old. Several employees at her store have worked for the company for many years, she said. She credits a strong profit sharing plan, flexible work schedules and a friendly work environment to her longevity with the company. “They make it a great atmosphere to work in because they want their employees to be friendly to customers,” Leaf said.

Tobacco Outlet’s parent company, family-owned Kwik Trip of La Crosse, Wis., shares 40 percent of its pretax profits with its 19,000 workers; offers health insurance and other benefits including a 401K savings plan; and offers employees month-long sabbaticals after working at the company 20 years.

David Niemi, a company spokesman, said Kwik Trip attracts and retains its workforce by regularly thanking workers for their efforts. “We also emphasize that we hire only candidates who embody our core values: honesty, integrity and respect.”

Kwik Trip operates 62 stores in Iowa under the name Kwik Star to avoid confusion with QuikTrip, another convenience store chain that operates in the state. It also owns and operates 17 Tobacco Outlet Plus stores in Iowa, including the Des Moines metro. In all, Kwik Trip has more than 560 stores in Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Kwik Trip Inc.

  • Location: LaCrosse, Wis.
  • Iowa Locations: 62 Kwik Star stores and 17 Tobacco Outlet stores and 3 Tobacco Outlet Plus Grocery stores
  • Founded: 1965
  • Ownership: Zietlow family
  • Iowa employees: 1941
  • Top executive: Don Zietlow, owner and CEO
  • Annual revenue: $4.5 billion

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