One of the most talented and successful chief executives in the Mid-Atlantic region – Howard Stoeckel of Wawa – will be stepping down at the end of 2012. The much admired CEO, who joined the company in 1987 and was named to the top post in 2005 is largely responsible for shaping the Wawa, PA-based convenience store retailer into one of the best c-store operators in the country. Once he retires, Stoeckel will remain Wawa’s vice chairman of the company’s board of directors.
In a long planned succession move, Chris Gheysens, a 15 year Wawa veteran and former CFO of the company will become CEO in January 2013. In January 2012, Gheysens, 41, was named president. He is a graduate ofVillanovaUniversityand obtained his MBA fromSaint Joseph’s University. Gheysens is also a certified public accountant inNew Jersey.
During Stoeckel’s tenure, the company, which opened its first unit in Folsom, PA in 1964 under the Wood family leadership (Grahame Wood and Dick Wood, who remains chairman of the board), has grown rapidly. Today, the privately-held, partially employee-owned retailer operates nearly 600 units (more than half of which sell gas) in fiveMid-Atlantic stateswith revenues estimated at more than $5 billion annually. Its stores produce the highest volume per unit of any convenience store chain in the country.
While Stoeckel will retire as CEO at the end of the year, he will still be at the helm to witness the launch of what is considered the company’s most ambitious new project – its expansion into theOrlando-TampaBaymarket. In the fall of 2012, the retailer will debut the first of about 15 units scheduled to open over the next two years in those growing areas ofCentral Florida.
The new Sunshine State units will focus on fresh food to go. Last month atSaint Joseph’s University’s annual Food Summit, Stoeckel said that new store designs will have kitchens with workstations and will utilize digital signage and menu boards to highlight food offerings.
And those who know Stoeckel expect the very fit 66 year old executive to stay active in the business and philanthropic communities.
In addition to his board duties at Wawa, Stoeckel serves as a director of Amerigas Propane, Inc. andRiddleMemorialHospital; he is on the board of governors at Main Line Health; and is chairman of the board of trustees forRiderUniversity, his alma mater.