For four generations, our family-owned convenience store chain has focused on providing exceptional service and delivering more than customers expect. Established in Hampton, Iowa in 1959, the chain employed 4,953 Associates in 411 stores across Iowa, Arkansas, Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Wyoming by the end of 2021.
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2021 brought about recruiting and retention challenges unlike Kum & Go had ever seen before. As the U.S. navigated the “Great Resignation,” our strategic priorities in Financial Wellness and Associate Wellbeing were put to the test when hiring and retaining top talent. Through intentional investment in wages, internal talent development, and a focus on overall wellbeing, Kum & Go ended the year increasing overall Associate engagement to 77% and saw a 6% increase in positive Associate responses to the question of Associate Benefits meeting their needs.
Kum & Go implemented its first quarterly incentive program for all Associates, meaning anyone who works in our stores is eligible for a quarterly bonus based on the performance of their store. This program lives up to our Total Rewards guiding principle of a Commitment to Performance, ensuring when our teams win, they win together.
Supporting our Associates overall mental, physical, and financial wellbeing was a priority in 2021 and will continue to be a CSR goal for the future. In 2021, Kum & Go put together a comprehensive plan to invest nearly $800k annually towards wellbeing programs for its Associates, launching as early as 2022.
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E15 and E85 are used to describe a range of gasoline products containing higher blends of ethanol, a renewable biofuel (for example, E15 contains 15% ethanol). Kum & Go began offering E85 in the 1990s and E15 in 2015. Today, Kum & Go builds most new stores with both E85 and E15 at the pump. Similarly, B5 and B20 are used to describe a range of diesel products containing biodiesel, another renewable biofuel (B20 contains 20% biodiesel). In 2021, total renewable gallons of ethanol and biodiesel combined increased slightly, primarily a result of rising petroleum prices and a rebound in popularity of E85. (Fuel customers typically switch to biofuel products when competitively priced against traditional gasoline and diesel.)
Our stores have begun incorporating reserved parking spaces and direct current (DC) fast charging stations. The DC fast charging speeds have increased, allowing customers to garner a significant charge during a routine stop. Kum & Go continues to accelerate its electric vehicle (EV) charging installation plans, adding 50 DC fast charging stations at 10 stores in 2021.
Renewable gallons blended/sold
Stores with DC fast charging stations
Stores with E15
Stores with E85
Stores with biodiesel
Stores with DC fast charging stations
Efficient & Renewable Energy
In 2010, Kum & Go became the only convenience store in the world certified under the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Volume Program. Our current Marketplace store footprint uses 36% less energy per square foot than our Legacy store footprint. In 2021, we continued efforts by retrofitting the following to high-efficiency LED lighting: 26 full Legacy stores’ lighting, 26 flag lights, 23 track lighting systems, and 10 Kum & Go oval signs. Another 14 stores’ kitchen exhaust hood fans were interlocked with temperature sensor controls. Those initiatives helped us continue to improve our energy intensity—down 11% from 2018.
In December 2011, Kum & Go installed its first solar photovoltaic (PV) project on a fuel canopy expansion at Store 927 in New Castle, Colorado. The panels produce 4% of total electric consumption, and we reengineered our fuel canopy design to hold the weight of future solar installations. Construction on our second solar PV installation began in 2020 at Store 329 in Denver, Colorado, and was energized in 2021. That project is currently producing near the design estimate of 22% of the facility’s total energy demand.
Kum & Go added net 505 trees in the new stores built in 2021.
For years, Kum & Go has improved water efficiency in stores via low-flow toilets, urinals, faucets, and auto-shut-off valves. Low-impact design (LID) landscaping and smart irrigation help us reduce water use and improve water quality as it leaves our sites. Beginning in 2019, and continuing through 2020, a concerted effort was undertaken to detect and fix water-related leaks in both plumbing and irrigation that resulted in a savings of over 35.3 million gallons.
Our new Marketplace footprint is more water intense than previous 5K and Legacy stores due to larger sites overall and increased landscaping area requiring irrigation. In 2021, we continued water-efficiency projects with 130 stores by installing new smart irrigation systems. Thanks to those initiatives, our water intensity continued to improve—down 27% from 2018.
In 2021, Kum & Go diverted 31.8% of waste from landfills, up slightly from 29.9% in 2020. The U.S. recycling industry continues to struggle, and our stores continue to receive unpredictable and uncontrolled external waste from customers. However, Kum & Go feels we have taken critical steps to increase diversion in the future. We hired a full-time Waste Reduction Specialist within Operations in 2020. In 2021, multiple waste audits confirmed that where single-stream service is offered almost all material being recycled is still corrugated cardboard. Switching to 100% cardboard recycling will help us maintain diversion rates, respond to service tickets more effectively, eliminate $180,000 in annual contamination fees, and find baling options for both cardboard and thin film shrink wrap plastics.
“I’m excited to say that our waste reduction efforts are beginning to show promise. Thanks to new waste audits, vendor data management, and innovative testing related to zero waste, we have some promising options for diversion over the next few years.” – Meg Kayko, Waste Reduction Specialist
In 2019, we also began replacing paper towels in our restrooms with fast, energy efficient Dyson Airblades that filter 99.97% of bacteria and viruses. These annually keep approximately 500 pounds of paper towels out of the landfill per store. In 2020, Kum & Go stores fully transitioned to bean-to-cup coffee machines that reduce waste, water usage, and Associate labor as they deliver fresh, made-to-order coffee with the touch of a few buttons. In 2020, we introduced two compostable packaging items—a BPI certified straw and birch wood stir stick—that replaced tons of single-use plastic utensils.