Wawa: Supply Change Management

Case Solution

Robert W. Keidel
Ivey Publishing ()

Wawa was founded in 1803 and registered as a textile manufacturer in 1865. In the early 1900s, the company opened a dairy; In 1964, Wawa Food Markets opened its first store to sell dairy products. By mid-2007, Wawa, based outside of Philadelphia, had grown into a chain of 564 convenience stores (200 of which sold gasoline) within a 400-mile radius. As a private company, Wawa employed more than 16,000 people. Sales in 2006 were $ 4.673 billion, a 19.6 percent increase over the prior year. Wawa was widely admired as a highly effective and humane organization with a loyal and growing customer base. This case is about Wawa Supply Chain Management (SCM) in the context of strategic direction, organizational design, and future growth opportunities. Over a period of eight years, Wawa had transformed its supply chain from a disjointed collection of parts to a coherent and highly functional system. The problems facing the company now included (1) the relationship between SCM and competitiveness; (2) the nature of the typical company and manager; and (3) a possible expansion beyond the current scope of Wawa’s operations. Another question was about Wawa’s business. In the past, these venues had a friendly “everyone knows your name” atmosphere, but the company moved to larger, more standardized units with fewer offerings in an attempt to minimize response times for customers. What would this change mean for the store manager role and for the overall customer experience? Finally, to what extent was Wawa “incoming” in its concentrated mid-Atlantic market? Could and should the company seek to export its distinctive value proposition, culture, and methodology to other geographic areas?

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