Wawa Inc.

Wawa, Inc.
Founded April 16, 1964 (1964-04-16)
Folsom, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Founder Grahame Wood
Headquarters Chester Heights, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Number of locations
720+ stores[1]
Key people
Chris Gheysens (CEO)[2]
  • Coffee
  • hoagies
  • prepared foods
  • gasoline
  • beverages
  • dairy products
Revenue Increase US$9.68 billion (2014)[3]
Increase US$118 million (2011)[4]
Total assets Increase US$1.57 billion (2011)[4]
Number of employees
22,500 (2015)[3]
Parent Wild Goose Holding Co.
Website www.wawa.com

Wawa Inc. is a chain of convenience store/gas stations located along the East Coast of the United States. It operates in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and Florida.[5] The company's corporate headquarters is located in the Wawa area of Chester Heights, Pennsylvania in Greater Philadelphia. As of 2008, Wawa was the largest convenience store chain in Greater Philadelphia, and it is also the third largest retailer of food in Greater Philadelphia, after ACME Markets and ShopRite.[6][7]


Old Wawa logo used from 1990 to 2004. This logo is still in use at many locations.

The Wawa business began in 1803 as an iron foundry.[5] In 1890, George Wood, a businessperson from New Jersey,[8] moved to Delaware County, Pennsylvania; it was here that he began the Wawa Dairy Farm.[8] Wood imported cows from the British island of Guernsey, and bought 1,000 acres (400 ha) of land in the Chester Heights area;[8] the corporate headquarters would later be renamed Wawa. Since pasteurization was not yet available, many children faced sickness from consuming raw milk. Wood arranged for doctors to certify his milk was sanitary and safe for consumption, which convinced many consumers to buy the product.[8] The strategy worked, and allowed the Wawa dairy to grow. Demand for dairy products grew rapidly during the 1920s, and so did the company. Wawa began using the slogan, "Buy Health by the Bottle," and served customers in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, delivering milk to customers' homes.

In the 1960s, however, consumers began buying milk in stores instead of using home delivery. Wawa started to open its own stores to adjust to these market changes.[5][8] On April 16, 1964, Grahame Wood opened the first Wawa Food Market at 1212 MacDade Boulevard in Folsom, Pennsylvania,[9] which is still in operation today.[7] The original Wawa store will be closing with the construction of a new gas station location nearby that is expected to open in spring 2016.[10]

The Wawa Food Market stores were also part of a then-new trend in retailing, the convenience store. Open both earlier and later than traditional supermarkets, they carried other foods and beverages besides milk, as well as other items from the Wawa dairy.

The old Wawa Dairy Farms building in Wawa, Pennsylvania

As of 1989, Wawa Inc. and the Wood family together controlled about 725 acres of land, containing the corporate headquarters, the Wawa dairy farm, and J.T. Farms, within two municipalities in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. The properties are located in Chester Heights and Middletown Township. Wawa Inc. owns 50 acres of land around "Red Roof," the corporate headquarters, 150 acres of land around the Wawa dairy, and the 225-acre J.T. Farms. The Wood family also owns 300 acres of estate property. Its extensive land holdings have led to criticism by some, including one journalist who called them "the closest thing to a feudal barony this side of duPont."[8]


The chain's name comes from the site of the company's first milk plant and corporate headquarters in the Wawa, Pennsylvania area. The name of the town Wawa is in turn derived from the Ojibwe word for the Canada goose (taken from The Song of Hiawatha).[11] An image of a goose in flight serves as the Wawa corporate logo. It is said that the goose was chosen because the company employs the principles of teamwork, group consensus, and encouragement.


The current CEO of Wawa is Chris Gheysens, who succeeded Howard Stoeckel in January 2013.[2][12] Eleuthère (Thère) du Pont has served as both the CFO and president, but is no longer associated with the company. Richard D. (Dick) Wood, Jr. is chairman of the board of directors. As of July 2009, many Wood family members were still active within the company. Although Wawa is a family-run business, the employees of Wawa also hold a relatively large percentage of stock.

A typical Super-Wawa gas station in Horsham, Pennsylvania

Holdings and locations

In 2015, Wawa ranked 34th on the Forbes magazine list of the largest private companies, with total revenues of $9.68 billion.[3] As of 2016, Wawa employs over 22,000 people[5][3] in 720+ stores (450+ offering gasoline).[1] As of 2008, Wawa's New Jersey stores were concentrated mostly in South Jersey.[13]

As of 1989 Wawa Inc. and the Wood family together control about 725 acres (293 ha) of land, containing the corporate headquarters, the Wawa dairy farm, and J.T. Farms, within two municipalities in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. The properties are located in Chester Heights and Middletown Township. Wawa Inc. owns 50 acres (20 ha) of land around "Red Roof," the corporate headquarters, 150 acres (61 ha) of land around the Wawa dairy, and the 225-acre (91 ha) J.T. Farms. The Wood family owns 300 acres (120 ha) of estate property. Cynthia Mayer of the Philadelphia Inquirer said that, as a result of the land holdings, the Wood family was "the closest thing to a feudal barony this side of du Pont."[8]

Beginning in the 1940s, the dairy facility began selling excess parcels of land. In 1964, it sold about 40 acres to the Franklin Mint. Several years prior to 1989, the dairy sold 25 acres of land to a retirement complex, Granite Farms Estates. The process of selling excess land continued sporadically.

Wawa Inc. owns the 225-acre J.T. Farms, a separate farm property. As of 1989 Wawa Inc. leases it to Bill Faul, who maintained a herd of 100 Holstein cattle and paid $1,500 (currently $2778.12) per month. Wawa continued to own the farm due to symbolic reasons. It also kept heifers along Route 1 in a strip of land adjacent to the plant which did not produce milk; Fritz Schroeder, the vice president of Wawa Inc., said in 1989, "[w]e like them for the ambiance."[14]

Wawa, for the most part, covers parts of Pennsylvania not already served by fast-growing rival stores Sheetz and Kroger-owned Turkey Hill. Wawa is often compared to Sheetz due to their similar business models and Pennsylvania roots.[15]

Corporate headquarters

"Red Roof" at Wawa headquarters in Chester Heights, Pennsylvania

The company's corporate headquarters is located in the Wawa area, along Baltimore Pike[16][17] in Chester Heights.[18][19] The headquarters is in proximity to Middletown Township.[20] As of 2011 about 300 employees work in the headquarters. The Borough of Chester Heights receives a majority of its local services tax from employees of Wawa.[18]

Programs and promotions

Wawa was among the first convenience stores to implement self-serve computer touch-screen menus for food orders, in an attempt to improve order accuracy.

Wawa provides surcharge-free ATM transactions to all of its customers in six states, the result of a partnership with PNC Bank that began in 1985. Wawa implemented the program in stores in 1996. In 2010, Wawa surpassed 1 billion transactions under the PNC brand.[21]

In the late 1980s and through the 1990s, Wawa engaged in a scholarship sponsorship program that involved Irish students (mainly from UCC in Cork, Ireland) running a considerable number of stores on the Pennsylvania Main Line. This was a successful program that allowed the students to study for their MBAs from Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia.[22]

A Wawa coffee bar counter with different flavors. A staple of Wawa stores for years, the glass carafes were replaced with coffee dispensers around 2010 for improved safety and ease of use.

In 1994, Wawa opened a store in Center City, Philadelphia which sold food only.[23]

In 1994, Wawa debuted the "Super Wawa", larger stores with more parking that later added gasoline pumps in 1996.[24][9] These larger stores added public restrooms and many gasoline pumps selling fuel at lower prices. On October 21, 2010, Wawa began testing the sale of diesel fuel at 12 of its New Jersey locations due to an increasing number of cars using this fuel.[25]

In the summer of 2002, Wawa Dairy celebrated its 100th anniversary by having a week-long "thirst aid tour" where it delivered over 100,000 cold beverages to those who needed them most. Wawa partnered with local food banks in an attempt to raise awareness of the ongoing need for support.

In 2003, Wawa and McLane Co. reached a 30-year agreement to construct a distribution center in Carney's Point, NJ to handle the majority of Wawa's distribution needs.[26][27] The center began operation in May 2004.[27]

In 2005, Wawa partnered with JPMorgan Chase to offer a Visa credit card branded with the Wawa name. It ceased issuing new cards in December 2007, and the program was canceled in November 2010.[28] Now Wawa is offering their own credit card, issued by Citibank.

Wawa moved into social media to connect with its customers, and in 2006, its "I Love Wawa" MySpace page had over 5,000 members. By summer 2013, its Facebook page had reached nearly 1.1 million "likes."[29]

In the summer of 2008, Wawa introduced "Hoagiefest", a reduced-price promotion on four selected varieties of its "Shorti" size hoagies. The Hoagiefest promotion was expanded in 2010 in both the number of types of hoagies included and the time length of the promotion. Wawa has run the promotion every summer since 2008.

In 2010, Wawa became the primary sponsor of the Welcome America series of Independence Day celebrations in Philadelphia. The previous sponsor was Sunoco.

On June 30, 2010, 20 Wawa locations in Pennsylvania started a trial of selling Pennsylvania Lottery tickets from automated kiosks. On December 6, 2010, it announced that all 210 Pennsylvania Wawa locations would sell lottery tickets from kiosks by spring 2011.[30][31]

On April 16, 2014, to celebrate its 50th anniversary, Wawa gave away free coffee and launched a nonprofit foundation to donate $50 million to health and hunger initiatives.[32]

Advertising slogans


Wawa offers products found at most convenience chain marts such as chips, drinks, and soda. Wawa also sells its own branded iced tea, soda, orange juice, and milk.

Key products include its variety of coffee, latte, and cappuccino flavors and sizes, and made-to-order hoagies. Wawa also offers a brand of hot breakfast products, most famous of which is the "Sizzli", and also a full deli with touch-screen ordering of sandwiches, hot sides, drinks, and deli meats. Wawa sells alcohol in Florida and Virginia.[33]

For a short time between 1994 and 1996, Wawa sold Pizza Hut Personal Pan Pizzas and Taco Bell burritos.[23]

Wawa periodically introduces new items to its menu, such as the now-discontinued ciabatta, a sandwich on a distinctive roll, and the breakfast hoagie. It sells seasonal coffee flavors like pumpkin spice in the fall, and a mint-flavored coffee around December. Wawa began selling bagged coffee in the millennium decade due to the popularity of its liquid coffee sold in-store.

Store locations

Wawa footprint as of July 2012

Wawa operates stores in Delaware, Florida, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Wawa's territory once stretched into North Jersey, New York and Connecticut, but in the late 1990s, the decision was made to abandon the franchised stores in New York metropolitan area and New England, as it was too competitive. The abandoned stores were re-branded when they were sold to Krauszer's (in Connecticut) and a variety of other convenience retailers, but most are still recognizable as they retain their distinctive "Wawa" design. The company continued to operate numerous stores in Central Jersey and South Jersey, and re-entered North Jersey in 2010, when Wawa opened a new store in Parsippany.[34] Wawa opened its 100th Super Wawa in New Jersey on October 12, 2012 in Woodbridge.[35] Wawa moved farther into North Jersey opening in Kearny on January 11, 2013 and Lodi on October 4, 2013. The company plans to open five Wawas a year in North Jersey for the next 10 to 12 years.[36]

On July 18, 2012, Wawa entered the Florida market when it opened its first location in Orlando.[37] It had expanded to more than seventy locations by the end of 2015, with plans for 120 more by 2022.[38]

As of May 2016, Wawa has over 720 locations across Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Florida.[1]

In some Jersey Shore towns, Wawa designs its stores to match the aesthetic, and changes operating procedures to adapt to shore culture. In Cape May City, Wawa has a Victorian-themed store. In Wildwood, it has a 1950s-themed store.[39]


  1. 1 2 3 "Wawa and Comcast team up to deliver free wi-fi at more than 700 East Coast locations" (PDF). Wawa. April 26, 2016. Retrieved May 9, 2016.
  2. 1 2 http://best-met.com/news/wawa-ceo-howard-stoeckel-retired-2012/
  3. 1 2 3 4 "Wawa on the Forbes America's Largest Private Companies List". Forbes. Retrieved March 27, 2016.
  4. 1 2 "#47 Wawa". Forbes. 2012.
  5. 1 2 3 4 "About Wawa". Wawa. 2016. Retrieved May 9, 2016.
  6. "Wawa's wonders of retailing, The dairy and convenience-store chain is marking 100 years." Philadelphia Inquirer. August 5, 2002. D01. Retrieved on December 21, 2011. "Wawa not only dominates the convenience-store business in the Philadelphia region but is also the third-largest food retailer, trailing only Acme Markets and ShopRite." and "To boost sales, the company opened its first Wawa Food Market in 1964 in Folsom, Delaware County. Stores now spread from central Pennsylvania and central New Jersey to southern Virginia. In the 1970s, the company began selling more coffee by the cup,[...]"
  7. 1 2 Wood, Anthony R. (April 16, 2009). "A little dairy with a big idea How success came to Wawa". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved December 21, 2011.
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Mayer, Cynthia. "Pay A Visit To Wawa, The Place." Philadelphia Inquirer. June 15, 1989. D4. p. 3. Retrieved on September 16, 2012.
  9. 1 2 "Wawa Timeline". Wawa. 2014. Retrieved May 9, 2016.
  10. Ormsby, Barbara (July 21, 2014). "Wawa closing its original store". Daily Local News. West Chester, PA. Retrieved July 21, 2014.
  11. "Native American Words in Longfellow's Hiawatha". Retrieved August 9, 2006.
  12. "Howard B. Stoeckel Profile". Forbes. Retrieved October 16, 2008.
  13. Strauss, Robert. "North Jersey or South? A Search for the Line." The New York Times. July 13, 2008. Retrieved on December 23, 2011. "There is the 'hoagie-sub' question: 'Hoagie' is a South Jersey term for a sandwich on a long roll, while a sub is the North Jersey version. No self-respecting North Jersey resident would know the Philadelphia Eagles fight song, and no South Jersey fan would wear a Giants T-shirt. Wawa stores dot the South, while North Jersey folks get their caffeine at a 7-11."
  14. Mayer, Cynthia. "Pay A Visit To Wawa, The Place." Philadelphia Inquirer. June 15, 1989. D4. p. 4. Retrieved on September 16, 2012.
  15. http://articles.philly.com/2013-04-01/business/38165625_1_lou-sheetz-dairy-farm-coffee-business
  16. Mayer, Cynthia. "Pay A Visit To Wawa, The Place." Philadelphia Inquirer. June 15, 1989. D4. p. 1. Retrieved on September 16, 2012.
  17. "About Wawa." Wawa Inc. Retrieved on February 18, 2011. "Headquarters Red Roof, Baltimore Pike Wawa, Pennsylvania 19063."
  18. 1 2 Stark, Kenn. "Chester Heights mulls options in light of proposed tax hike." Delaware County Daily Times. Monday December 5, 2011. Retrieved on September 16, 2012. "Currently, about 300 Wawa employees work at the Red Roof corporate headquarters in Chester Heights."
  19. "Borough of Chester Heights Zoning Map." (Archive) Borough of Chester Heights. Retrieved on September 16, 2012.
  20. "Stores Post Billboard Ads for Tobacco, Despite Ban." The New York Times. May 9, 1999. Retrieved on December 23, 2011.
  21. "Wawa hits 1 billion ATM transactions with PNC brand". ATM Marketplace. Networld Media Group. April 19, 2010. Archived from the original on February 1, 2014. Retrieved May 9, 2016.
  22. "Scholarship Program Links SJU and Northern Ireland". HawkEye. Saint Joseph's University. December 8, 2003. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved May 9, 2016.
  23. 1 2 Westfeldt, Amy. "Convenience Stores in the '90s." Associated Press at the Warsaw Times-Union. Saturday July 27, 1996. 10C. Retrieved from Google News (14/39) on January 1, 2011.
  24. Bishop, Chris (April 16, 2014). "Wawa history through the years". Burlington County Times. Retrieved May 9, 2016.
  25. "Wawa Mulling Diesel Deal". CSP Daily News. October 22, 2010. Archived from the original on July 8, 2011. Retrieved May 9, 2016.
  26. Katherine Doherty (September 9, 2009). "Golden Pallet Award - A Unique Partnership That Delivers". Food Logistics. Retrieved September 14, 2012.
  27. 1 2 McLane Company (April 2009). "Business Case: Third-Party Supply Chain Solutions" (PDF). McLane Company. Retrieved September 14, 2012.
  28. "Wawa's credit cards canceled." Philadelphia Inquirer. Thursday October 14, 2010. Retrieved on November 24, 2010.
  29. Walker, Rob. "Convenience Cult?" The New York Times. July 30, 2006. Retrieved on December 23, 2011.
  30. "Wawa Expands Pennsylvania Lottery Program". ConvenienceStoreNews. Stagnito Media. December 6, 2010. Retrieved April 15, 2014.
  31. "Wawa Bets on Pa. Lottery". NBC 10. NBCUniversal. December 6, 2010. Retrieved April 15, 2014.
  32. "Free coffee at Wawa to mark 50th anniversary". The Morning Call. April 16, 2014.
  33. Logue, Tim (June 14, 2015). "Wawa hops into the beer-sales market". Delaware County Daily Times. Retrieved May 9, 2016.
  34. Paik, Eugene (June 14, 2010). "Wawa's Parsippany store will be its northern-most location". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved December 16, 2010.
  35. Bell, Deborah (October 9, 2012). "Wawa Set to Open New Fords Store This Friday". Woodbridge Patch. Retrieved December 21, 2012.
  36. Genovese, Peter (January 11, 2013). "Wawa in Mahwah some day? Chain invades North Jersey". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved January 12, 2013.
  37. "Florida's first Wawa opens today in Orlando, Orlando". Central Florida News 13. July 18, 2012.
  38. Valverde, Miriam (November 9, 2015). "Wawa plans 120 stores in South Florida". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved July 1, 2016.
  39. Warner, Susan (August 14, 2005). "Mom and Pop Hold Sway At the Shore". The New York Times. Retrieved December 24, 2011.
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