Wawa, which first opened in 1964 in the Philadelphia suburb of Folsom, Pa., is a convenience store/gas station chain that currently boasts about 900 stores along the East Coast, from Pennsylvania to Florida.
Pakit began working with Wawa in the early 1990s. Back then, most convenience stores only provided a barebones coffee experience—drip coffee, one flavor, and a limited assortment of condiment options. Patrons who wanted more than cream and sugar (or a sugar substitute) were out of luck! But when Wawa decided to expand its coffee options to include a variety of brews and condiments, the company—a beloved staple in the Philadelphia area—reached out to Pakit, another local Philly area-based company, to help design new coffee stations. Thus began a strong working relationship in its fourth decade that has covered many generations of coffee display racks.
Wawa is currently expanding southward, and Pakit is growing with them. While Wawa’s coffee station is the flagship display, Pakit’s entire Wawa display catalog now includes over 40 items. From various countertop displays to shelving add-ons for products such as bananas, chips, and newspapers.
The longstanding partnership brings many benefits to both companies. Both organizations know each other well. Wawa knows Pakit’s capabilities, and Pakit understands Wawa’s needs. The strong relationship also allows Pakit to be proactive. Pakit representatives often visit Wawa’s stores to identify potential problems and opportunities and propose solutions.
“It’s a much more straightforward communication,” says Konrad Giersz, Pakit’s Director of Design and Engineering. “They know us very well. They know our team members, and we know theirs, so having that partnership streamlines communication. We can be much more upfront about what we think they might need or any potential issues we might run into in production.”
As a company, Pakit is grateful to partner with a chain such as Wawa, which has an excellent reputation and significant brand loyalty, especially in greater Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
“Myself included, people go there for lunch and get tasty, well-prepared sandwiches,” Giersz says. “Now Wawa has expanded into dinner with burgers, pizza, etc. Their food is freshly prepared, and it tastes delicious. They also do an excellent job staffing their stores. Their staff is typically very local to the particular store. So there’s always a lot of positive interaction between staff and guests.
“Also, they have invested in their stores. The stores are very clean, pleasant, and well-organized. They were one of the first convenience store chains to expand its coffee offerings. That also played a huge part in driving that loyalty because it’s a daily morning routine of going and getting coffee.”
Pakit considers Wawa’s customer loyalty and brand recognition when working on a new project.
“We always try to maintain cohesion when designing new fixtures for them to ensure that everything matches store interiors and continue building on what they have established so far,” Giersz says. “Instead of introducing something different, we blend new fixtures with their existing looks to maintain the brand.”
Pakit’s longstanding partnership with Wawa bodes well for the future.
“That collaboration continues to this day as they’re embarking on this new expansion and planning for the next ten years,” Giersz says. “We’re a part of that, working on exciting projects for their new stores. We look forward to the next ten years and seeing what they bring. We’re planning on expanding together. It’s a very exciting time.”