The Road to Palm Springs
Owner, President and CEO
Kum & Go, L.C.
The value of learning from the bottom up is embedded deep in the heart of Kum & Go, L.C., the fifth-largest privately owned convenience store chain in the US. After all, even its owner, President and CEO Kyle Krause started out as a gas pump jockey.
In 1959, Kyle’s father and grandfather co-founded Kum & Go — a single service station in Hampton, Iowa. These two men had a pioneering vision to link retail operations with full-service gas stations, resulting in today’s company operating more than 400 stores in 11 states. From boyhood, Kyle wanted to be part of the family business. But as the boss’s son, he knew he’d have to work harder to earn respect and be taken seriously by the employees and the management team.
And he has succeeded admirably while also embedding a culture of promotion from within. Today, most of Kyle’s management team is made up of self-starters, people who began their careers the same way he did — at the bottom — climbing rung by rung to upper management. Kyle attributes this fact and the unprecedented low management turnover rate (in 2011, Kum & Go retained 90% of its management) to the company’s five core values: passion, integrity, teamwork, caring and excellence.
These values, coupled with Kyle’s hands-on style, ingenuity and obvious commitment to his employees and his community, are the bedrock on which Kyle has based his long-term plan: to make Kum & Go the No. 1 convenience retailer in the US by 2021.