Most family businesses don’t survive the third generation, yet Dick Wood, semi-retired chairman of the Wawa convenience store chain, is comfortably watching his multi-generation company thrive.
Wood kept Wawa private, but also started handing it off to non-family leaders more than a decade ago, betting the best way to ensure Wawa’s future was to separate it from its founding family. His wager paid off. Wawa now has almost 800 locations–none franchised–and 30,000 employees in six states (plus Washington, D.C.), writes
Founded in 1964 by Grahame Wood–Dick’s first cousin once removed–Wawa began as a roadside dairy market in the Philadelphia suburbs. Its founder likely wouldn’t recognize Wawa today, as it expands throughout the East Coast and audaciously tries to muscle out of the gas-station ghetto to compete with the likes of Panera, Starbucks, and Sweetgreen.
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