Sheetz Impactz on the First Frontier

 In News

Can you imagine a world without Sheetz? Posing such a question in our family would result in an ear shattering NOOOOOOO from our 7-year old and her parents alike. We are all self-proclaimed and officially recognized “Sheetz Freakz.”

Certainly, the sight of a Sheetz store brings the promise of good food and coffee. But it also offers something more – an intangible familiarity – a sanctuary of sorts that may be unique to those of us born and raised in Blair County. For us the stores are the closest thing to a Blair County embassy I can think of. That’s not overstated.

I grew up with Sheetz. From 2 am “Sheetz runs” in the 80s to down one of those shiny spinning “death dogs” (an affectionate name for their goodness) to MTO’s of all shapes and styles. Now-a-days we must “share the love” with millions of people throughout six states, 564 stores – and counting.

If you don’t know the Sheetz Story, it has been published in books and accessible on their website. Bob Sheetz purchased one small dairy shop in Altoona in 1952. There were big wins and major flops. Sheetz always competed to put themselves out of business. They use technology and innovation as tools to try to do just that. It’s an operational philosophy that seems to have worked well.

Sheetz is the country’s fastest-growing family-owned and operated convenience store chain with over $6 billion in revenue. Yes, that’s billion with a “b.” This year the business was recognized by Fortune as one of the 100 Best Companies to Work, a Top 12 Best Places to Work for Women and Top 35 Best Workplaces for Millennials.

Convenience Store Decisions named Sheetz the 2017 Convenience Store Chain of the Year, considered the gold standard in convenience retailing. The company was the first two-time winner of that award – the first was in 1994.

While all of that may matter to Sheetz, it also really matters to us in the First Frontier. Here’s why.

At last count, Sheetz employs 2,929 people in Blair County. That includes their corporate headquarters, operations center, distribution facility, Sheetz Brothers Kitchen and point of sale store locations. They are and have been our largest private sector employer for years. While the scale may be different, it is fair to say that they are as big to us as Facebook, Microsoft or Google are to their hometown economies.

Sheetz annual payroll exceeds $115 million in Blair County alone. They generate more than $3 million in local taxes each year that support our schools, roads and public services. They bring in hundreds of new hires each year; top notch professional talent – many of whom are from outside our community. Those folks establish roots and families right here in the First Frontier.

The multiplier effect of all that, which accounts for those businesses who supply Sheetz operations, employees who buy things here like cars, houses, clothes, food, make charitable contributions – the list goes on –puts Sheetz overall impact to the Blair County economy somewhere between $500 and $600 million every year.

Oh yeah, that charitable contribution thing – it’s really-big too.

Their Sheetz for the Kidz program is one of a kind. It was created by the Sheetz employees and is supported by them at crazy levels. To see just how crazy, you should attend the annual Sheetz for the Kidz “Prize-A-Palooza” event. You’ll understand what I am talking about.

Special Olympics is another focus for Sheetz. Together more than 150,000 kids have been impacted and $25 million+ dollars raised that go directly to the kids or their families.

The Sheetz Entrepreneurial Center at Penn State Altoona is helping to create the next great idea and start-up opportunity that could add to our economic base in Blair County.

Then there are the little league uniforms, sponsorships, and various underwriting – that’s just what we see. There is still a ton of other Sheetz family philanthropy that goes unattributed. We all benefit, trust me on that.

For economic developers, your largest private sector employer matters a lot. When that employer is home grown, it matters even more. Sheetz is more than a “cup of joe” and MTO for us. It’s about jobs, investment, and innovation; they are First Frontier Blair County family originals making a big and lasting impact. And for that we say, “Yes, I do have my Sheetz card. Thank you very much.”

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