It’s been an eventful five decades for Kum & Go, which celebrated its 50th anniversary this year.
Entrepreneurs W.A. Krause and T.S. Gentle founded Kum & Go in 1959 under the original name of the Hampton Oil Co., which later changed to Krause Gentle Corp. In the 1970s, the co-founders wanted a name that would represent the partnership and promote the speed of service the chain offered, so using the first letter of each last name, K & G, they launched Kum & Go.
As of Jan. 1, 2004, Krause Gentle became a real estate holding company and Kum & Go L.C. purchased all stores that were originally owned by Krause Gentle Corp., to become the exclusive operator of all Kum & Go stores.
Since the West Des Moines, Iowa-based chain was awarded CSD’s Chain of the Year award in 1998, the chain has grown immensely, building and acquiring new stores, expanding its foodservice offering and moving toward sustainable practices.
The recession has not stopped Kum & Go from building new stores and buying up others. The company grew rapidly in the late 1990s and has continued its expansion efforts through the years. For example, in 2003, it purchased the rights to 36 Cenex stores in South Dakota, Montana, Minnesota, Iowa and Wyoming. A year later the chain acquired 68 Git-n-Go convenience stores in Oklahoma and Missouri, and earlier this year it reached a deal to buy 37 Cody’s convenience stores in southwest Missouri.
Today, Kum & Go is the 22nd largest convenience store chain and ranked among the top 10 privately-held convenience store chains in the U.S., and operates more than 430 Kum & Go convenience stores in 13 states.
Kum & Go currently employs 3,600 associates and reports an excess of $2 billion in annual sales. The company was one of the Forbes top private companies in the country two years running and is the third largest private owner operator of convenience stores. The company gives back 10% of its annual profits to charitable and educational causes each year, earning it the “Outstanding Corporate Philanthropy Award” from the Association of Fundraising Professionals.
To complement its expansion, the company is expanding further into foodservice. Kum & Go stores feature a wide selection of food and beverage products, including Java Ridge Premium Coffee, Go Fresh Market sandwiches and Nuclear energy drinks. The chain also offers potato chips, bottled water, cookies and candy under the well-known Hiland brand name in its stores.
Also this year, Kum & Go opened its second LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) convenience store in Iowa. As part of its commitment to developing environmentally-friendly buildings these new stores feature heavily insulated glass, LED cooler door lights and energy-efficient coolers, which all reduce energy consumption.
Kum & Go has also been ahead of the curve on renewable fuels. The chain has been offering E85 fuel since 1997, which has resulted in multiple economic benefits. Kum & Go’s total reduction of fossil fuel dependency was 14.5 million gallons from ethanol alone last year and the company is now the largest E85 retailer in the state of Iowa.
It has expanded the E85 offering to Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Colorado, Nebraska and Oklahoma.
Looking to the future, the chain continues to expand and is moving into social networking to help connect more with customers and keep them abreast of upcoming promotions.