steve zietlow

Don Zietlow, CEO of Kwik Trip Convenience Stores

Kwik Trip first opened for business as a grocery store in 1965, and today has expanded into 800 locations throughout Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois. Privately held and run, Don Zietlow’s family became sole owners in 2000.

As his children Scott and Steve can attest, he has always recognized that people are his business’ most precious resource and created an employee benefit package including 40% profit sharing. Furthermore, his competitors remain under pressure.

Early Life and Education

Zietlow’s competitive fire is apparent in all that he does; yet his belief system remains simple: treat others how you would wish to be treated and strive to become the best you can.

His upbringing and the stutter that his wife, LaVonne, describes as keeping him from stringing four words together have helped mold who he is today. Through stability, hard work ethic and giving back – principles which he instilled into Kwik Trip (known for $1 Wednesday cheeseburgers and glazed doughnuts as well as their 40% profit-sharing and real estate ownership programs – have played an integral part of its success).

Professional Career

Dr. Zietlow witnessed first-hand how gun violence affected trauma patients during his time as a surgeon, often necessitating more intensive procedures at Mayo Clinic than other types of wounds. Even after retiring last year, he continued working in trauma at Mayo Clinic.

Zietlow credits his belief in his employees to his experience as a truck driver, where he worked hard for just $125 each month. From this position of knowledge came an understanding that people are the cornerstone of any successful enterprise and it is crucial that one invests in them accordingly; consequently he instituted 40% profit sharing for staff as well as an employee real estate ownership program.

Kwik Trip’s commitment to community reflects this ethos, evidenced by internal “Families Helping Families” programs, donations to World War II Freedom Honor Flights and support of United Way and Special Olympics.

Achievement and Honors

Don Zietlow has led Kwik Trip to record profits during an uncertain economic climate thanks to his ability to balance competitive fire with caring consideration for others. His leadership helped the convenience store chain become vertically integrated while creating successful food programs; moreover, he amassed a formidable work force including executives from his time spent in grocery retailing.

Zietlow was awarded CSP’s Retail Leader of the Year award during a formal dinner on Monday night, the second evening of the NACS Show. His children including Steve Zietlow (Kwik Trip management) took to the stage on his behalf, acknowledging their dedication to serving people by living by what they refer to as the Golden Rule.

Personal Life

Kwik Trip may be best known for its cheeseburgers and glazed doughnuts, but Zietlow has also made it his mission to give back to his community through donations to World War II Honor Flight, Special Olympics, United Way and other initiatives.

Zietlow has even created an internal “Families Helping Families” program to assist coworkers who experience difficulty. His dedication is widely lauded.

Zietlow will retire at the end of 2023, passing control of his La Crosse, Wisconsin convenience store chain to his son Scott – an orthopedic trauma surgeon and medical professor at Mayo Clinic who will become its second-generation CEO.

Net Worth

Steve Zietlow’s estimated net worth stands at around $350 Million based on his stake in Kwik Trip convenience store chain, which spans Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa with more than 650 stores under their wings. Zietlow is known for creating an employee-focused workplace culture through profit sharing programs and real estate ownership options which has resulted in top ratings as an employer.

Zietlow remains focused on innovation and is never content to rest on past successes. Recently, he unveiled a network of natural gas fueling sites which offer CNG/LNG as well as propane, E85 biodiesel, B10 biodiesel.

Kwik Trip’s owner is also a significant supporter of Wisconsin Republican politicians, having donated more than $100,000 for the 2020 election cycle. Hailing from La Crosse-area native, he’s married and has three children.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *