It was 1968 when Don Lamberti purchased a Boone, Iowa service station and converted it into a convenience store, launching what would eventually grow into the thriving chain known as Casey’s General Stores. By the end of its first decade, Casey’s had more than 100 locations, plus its own warehouse. To meet its growing business needs, the company opened a distribution center in Urbandale, Iowa in 1982, and a year later Casey’s became a public company. Soon busy customers were able to buy popular food items, including doughnuts and pizza, in each store.
Headquartered in Ankeny, Iowa, Casey’s was recognized as Chain of the Year in 1993, and within three years, the company had opened its 1,000th store at a site in Altoona, Iowa. That was the same year that Casey’s annual sales exceeded $1 billion for the first time.
“The convenience store industry is quite a bit different than in 1993,” said William Walljasper, senior vice president and CFO. “I would say the biggest trend is the explosion in the prepared foods category. More and more convenience stores are co-branding with QSRs or introducing proprietary foodservice programs.”
Casey’s proprietary foodservice program is the envy of many retailers. The menu is extensive, ranging from combo meals and burgers to breakfast items and made-from-scratch pizzas. The popular pizza program is enhanced by Casey’s own homemade pizza dough, and the pizza menu includes everything from traditional pepperoni to trendy combinations, such as the bacon-cheeseburger and the taco pizza. In 2010, the company will expand its coffee and fountain selections, add new menu items and continue to roll out a made-to-order sandwich program.
Advances in Technology
Another important change has been the rapid development of new technology to operate the business and provide faster customer service. After adopting pay-at-the-pump technology, Casey’s added a complete point-of-sale system. “This has changed how we look at shelf space,” Walljasper said. “It gives us a better understanding of the movement of products and helps us regionalize the product mix.”
Casey’s has grown through acquisitions and today has 1,478 convenience stores in nine Midwestern states: Indiana, Iowa, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Wisconsin and Illinois. With a fiscal year that runs from April through March, Casey’s plans to increase the total number of stores by 4% for 2010. By the end of the first quarter, the company had opened five new stores and replaced an additional five.
Last year, Casey’s added 16 newly constructed stores and 16 acquired locations to its portfolio. Since about 60% of the chain’s stores are located in cities with populations of less than 5,000 people, Casey’s is the “go to” retailer in many areas. In addition, Casey’s operates a central warehouse and distribution center through which it supplies grocery and general merchandise items to its stores.
To serve the community and win new customers, Casey’s offers non-profit organizations the opportunity to purchase its pizza and doughnut fundraising cards, which are sold for double the price, and the non-profit keeps all of the profit. People who purchase the cards get generous discounts on some of Casey’s top foodservice products.