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CEO’s Emotions Revealed the Truth About the Company Culture

Mr. Chet Cadieux, CEO, and Chairman of QuikTrip (QT) gave a speech about his company’s culture to a large group of business professionals in Kansas City on November 21, 2019. If you’re in one of QT’s eleven markets, you know QT. If you’re not, you’re missing out.

QT was founded in 1958 in Oklahoma by Mr. Cadieux’s father, an Air Force veteran. Mr. Cadieux grew up in the company and is extremely fond of it and the people who work there. He is extremely fond of the people. The word “extreme” brings to mind those gusty young kids who ski off mountains and flip and twist or those who jump out of perfectly fine airplanes. As extreme as those people are from “normal” thinking is how much Mr. Cadieux loves his QT people.

If your company is successful, figure out your culture. If you like it, then hire for it. If you don’t like it, change it.

~Chet Cadieux

During his speech, Mr. Cadieux shared how important the culture is to QT. He said, “The entire purpose of the company is based on the culture.” He said the culture description of QT is not aspirational. It just is.

He shared five values that define QT’s culture and contribute to QT’s success:

  1. Be the best and hire people who want to be the best. You can’t teach people to want to be the best. They either always strive to win or they don’t. “Our people are genuinely gutted if we can’t win,” he said.

  2. Never be satisfied. He said, “We have institutional paranoia. We know if we don’t constantly get better, someone could come and knock our socks off.”

  3. Focus long-term. Their strategic investments are made twenty years out. A few years ago, I asked the CEO of a long-established organization about his vision for twenty years out, and he thought the question was stupid. QT’s CEO considers it essential.

  4. Do what’s right for QT. The philosophy here was summed up by a quote from Mr. Cadieux’s father who said, “QuikTrip is interested in saving the platoon, not saving Private Ryan.” If someone isn’t carrying their weight for some reason, they get thoughtful management attention; however, if the person doesn’t improve, an exit is planned. QT is not going to sacrifice the culture because of one person.

  5. Do the right thing. Mr. Cadieux asks people, “Would your mother be proud of what you did today?” Would you be proud to tell your mother what you did today?

Gas stations and convenience stores are competitive. Heck, as Mr. Cadieux pointed out, gas stations put their prices on gigantic signs on the street, so they can’t compete on price. They have to compete on something else. QT has figured out its culture and how to capitalize on its culture as its differentiator.

Mr. Cadieux spoke for over an hour about the QT culture, and he kept returning to the “guys and gals who wear the red shirts.” Near the end of our time with him, he got choked up when explaining his extreme love of his people, “I knew from my father that my family was financially secure and the people working in the stores were why.”

After composing himself quickly, Mr. Cadieux’s time with us ended, and he left to go visit one of his stores to be with the guys and gals in the red shirts.

Kelly Byrnes
Kelly Byrneshttps://voyagecg.com/
Kelly Byrnes is Founder and CEO of Voyage Consulting Group where she equips organizations to thrive through purposeful leadership and culture. A sought-after leadership expert, Kelly also serves as an adjunct MBA professor, executive MBA coach, contributor to Forbes.com, best-selling author, and award-winning national speaker. Her thirty-year career includes leading on three executive teams and working across operations, marketing, strategic planning, and Human Resources. Kelly has had the privilege to coach and consult with leading companies including Honeywell, Bayer Animal Health, Chrysler, Schlage, Smith Barney, and Bank of America among many others. Kelly holds an MBA, BA, Harvard Business School’s Certification for Strategic Disruption, and HR-related SHRM-SCP and SPHR designations. On a personal note, Kelly is married to Bob, an Air Force veteran, and retired fire captain. They live in Kansas City, MO with their dog, Bebe. They enjoy spending time with their daughter in Montana, gathering with family in Kansas City and Pittsburgh, and cheering for Notre Dame football, Pittsburgh Penguins hockey, and Kansas City’s Royals and Chiefs. Kelly’s volunteer activities center around her parish, education, children, women, and dogs.

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