The Kentucky Grocers Association and Kentucky Association of Convenience Stores (KGA/KACS) honored Flatwoods, Ky.-based Super Quik Inc. and its president G. Lynn Rice with the 2009 Kentucky Convenience Store of the Year last month.
Rice accepted the award on behalf of all the Super Quik employees at KGA/KACS’s annual meeting.
“It’s nice to be recognized against your peers in the industry with this kind of an award,” Rice said. “We are an employee-owned company, so the honor extends to the 270 employees that make the company run.”
Nominations for KGA/KACS Convenience Store of the Year are accepted from the group’s membership and judged directly by KGA/KACS board members.
Those eligible must be engaged or connected with the food and convenience distribution systems in Kentucky and a member of the association. The owner must have made an outstanding contribution to the good of the food and convenience distribution industries in Kentucky.
“Lynn’s dedication to the Super Quik employees and their mutual interest management in making sure the Super Quik Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) program remains successful for the long term was an important factor in his selection as 2009 KACS Convenience Store of the Year,” said Ted Mason, executive director for KGA/KACS.
In his acceptance speech, Rice told attendees people will make or break a business. “I personally feel this industry’s future is bright and that our employees are willing and able to take on any challenge that we may face,” he said. “An ESOP cannot make a bad company good; rather it can make a good company better.”
Rice began his career in the industry in the 1970s with Ashland Petroleum. He helped the company develop its Save Mart Convenient Store division, working there as a supervisor until 1979.
Around that time, a long time family friend, Jerald Witten, had recently sold his 100-store chain in Texas and was starting Super Quik convenience stores in the Ashland, Ky. area. Rice began a new career running the Super Quik stores. At that time there were three Super Quik stores and two Laundromats.
Today it has 15 high volume gas stations and c-stores, six Subway restaurants, two Mr. Klean Laundromats, a Papa John’s pizza shop a car wash.
Employee Owned Company
In June 2005, Witten sold the company to the employees, creating a 100% ESOP organization. Every full-time employee that works 500 hours per year qualifies for a stock allocation that year.
“There are only 1,500 companies like us that are 100% employee owned in the country, so we’re rather unique,” Rice noted.
The distinction comes with advantages. “Our customers would rather support a company that is owned by the employees, and it increases our ability to execute the programs we run in our stores because our employees understand the industry,” Rice said.
The stock options are one factor that keeps employees around for the long term. “We’ve been an ESOP company for five years, and for some employees, their stock counts are half of what they make in a year’s time and increasing yearly,” Rice said. “So employees stay with us longer and so they understand what needs to be done and they’re more experienced.”
Super Quik has made a profit every year since its beginning 30 years ago. The company annually raises money to fund scholarship programs for local youth to advance their education.
As for Super Quik’s future, the company will be looking to acquire profitable retail or foodservice operations in the years ahead. Rice noted, “I’m optimistic about our future and meeting the challenges ahead of us.”