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Wawa is big, and growing fast. The convenience chain is the largest privately-owned company in Pennsylvania by revenue, according to a new ranking from Forbes.
Coming in at No. 29 in the U.S., Wawa leaves cross-state rival Sheetz in the dust (it’s No. 75), the Philadelphia Business Journal first reported.
The Delaware County-headquartered company had $11 billion in annual revenue last year, per the ranking. That’s up from $10 billion reported in 2018 and $9 billion two years before that.
Financial growth tracks with expansion. Three years ago, Wawa was celebrating the launch of its 800th location. Now it has nearly 950 stores across six states and Washington DC. New Jersey has the most outposts, followed by its home state — but Florida is fast catching up. All three have more than 200 Wawas each.
Because of its private ownership, many of the numbers behind Wawa’s success aren’t readily available to the public. However, a 4000-word profile in the June 2018 issue of Inc. revealed several tidbits about the financial workings of the family-owned business.
Here are a few more facts about how Wawa makes money.
10th largest convenience chain in U.S.
With its $11 billion in revenue it’s closing in on industry leader 7-Eleven, which has more than 10 times the number of U.S. stores (around 9,500) and brings in a reported $18 billion each year.
Goods are cheap, but people buy more stuff
The average Wawa customer spends more than other convenience store customers. Back in 2018, Wawa told Inc. that number was $7.42 per visit, close to double the industry average at the time of $4.12.
Stores served 800 million customers annually in 2018
It’s nothing like McDonald’s 69 million a day, but 800 million is a lot of people, especially since the chain only operates across six states plus D.C., compared to the burger juggernaut’s nationwide reach.
The workforce is more than 35,000 strong
More than 35,000 people are currently employed by the Delco-headquartered operation, across New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Florida, and Washington DC.
Staff owns nearly half the company
Wawa is 41%employee-owned, and some say its employee stock ownership plan is second largest ESOP in the country. When it was expanded in 2003, shares were worth $900. In 2018, they were worth around $10,000, and last year that number was cited as $14,000 per share. Inc reported “many” workers get to retire as millionaires.
The CEO still consults the owning family
After being founded in 1964 and led by members of the Wood family for decades, Wawa first hired an outside CEO in 2005. He was succeeded by a second outsider, Ghysens, in 2013 — but Ghysens still consults with former CEO and current company chairman Richard “Dick” Wood.
The Wood family has deep Philly roots
Good one for trivia buffs: the Wood family came to this region around the same time as William Penn — Quaker Richard Wood is thought to have landed in Philadelphia back in 1682.