‘The Wawa Way:' Book details Delco icon's secret to success


Former Wawa CEO Howard Stoeckel will release a new book detailing the philosophy behind Delaware County’s largest convenience store chain on the anniversary of the opening of the first store.

“The Wawa Way: How a Funny Name and 6 Core Values Revolutionized Convenience,” was written by Stoeckel, who worked for Wawa from 1987 until 2012 and now serves as vice chairman of the board of directors, with co-author Bob Andelman.

Stoeckel started at Wawa as the vice president of Human Resources before becoming the first non-Wood family member to lead the company in 2005.

“The book is about endearment and endurance and how Wawa has been able to sustain itself,” Stoeckel said. Wawa opened its first convenience store in 1964 after home delivery of dairy products sharply declined.

“You have to understand your underlying reasons for success, but at the same time you have to change your strategies and you have to remain relevant,” he said. “What we’ve been able to do over the last 50 years is preserve and maintain our reason for success, but we’ve also been able to change.”

Stoeckel said Wawa’s success stems from the company’s adherence to several management principles, including private ownership, shared ownership and servant leadership.

Wawa remains a privately held company, which Stoeckel says allows leaders to make long-term strategic decisions without worrying about stockholders or dividends.

Employees own a large portion of the company, 38 percent, which drives innovation through a shared interest between owners and employees.

“We have a willingness to share ownership with people that make Wawa a strong brand,” Stoeckel said. “Their future is tied to the success of the company.”

Wawa also strives to serve its community and customers, allowing the business to flourish.

“Wawa is an enduring brand. We focus on winning the hearts of our customers. Customers certainly have choices... ,” he said. “You can’t take longevity for granted. We’ve been around as a business for over 200 years.”

“The Wawa Way” is published by Running Press of Philadelphia and will available for sale in Wawa stores beginning April 16. From 6 to 7 a.m. on April 16, author Howard Stoeckel will be signing copies of the book at Wawa Store No. 1 at 1212 MacDade Boulevard in Ridley Township.

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