Wisconsin 275
Wisconsin 275
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Don Zietlow

Other Leading Industries | Retail
Co-founder and CEO
Kwik Trip  |  La Crosse

Don Zietlow has been at the helm of La Crosse-based Kwik Trip’s evolution from a single location in Eau Claire to an 800-store operation with a devoted customer base. Zietlow co-founded the company in 1965, the year its first store opened. In the early ‘70s, Kwik Trip opened a La Crosse location and established its corporate office in the city. Exponential growth followed over the coming decades. The store remained jointly owned by the Zietlow family and co-founder John Hansen’s family until 2000, when the Zietlow family bought out the Hansens’ interest.

Kwik Trip has continued to expand in recent years, including its 2017 acquisition of PDQ locations in the Madison and Milwaukee area, the introduction of fried chicken as part of its hot food section, a new take-home meal line prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the 2021 acquisition of Stop-N-Go. The company prides itself on producing 80% of the products featured in stores by its own commissary, bakery, dairy and distribution center located in La Crosse. Maintaining clean restrooms has also been a hallmark of the chain, company leaders say.

Today, Kwik Trip has more than 35,000 employees. It has operations in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa, and plans are underway for new stores in South Dakota.

It ranked No. 8 on this year’s Deloitte Wisconsin 75 list of the state’s largest privately held companies. It reportedly does nearly $7 billion in annual sales.

Zietlow announced in November he would retire at the end of 2022. His son, Scott will become president and CEO of Kwik Trip.

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