2017 Fast 50 No. 48: 36 Lyn Refuel Station


Original article from Business Journal. 

36 Lyn Refuel Station is an indie convenience store that specializes in supplying locally sourced food to communities in South Minneapolis. It saw revenue growth of almost 40 percent since 2014, surpassing $11 million in 2016.

We asked Director of Operations Lonnie McQuirter:

What’s been the biggest challenge managing a fast-growing company? 
Law of 3s: In HR, finance and inventory, things change drastically as your firm grows. For us, it has been in establishing our brand and differentiating ourselves from the 154,000 other convenience stores.

Has the jobs/skills gap impacted your company’s growth? 
I was told by Joe Petrowski years ago that you need to hire for character and train for talent. This has meant that some people have had to learn that their skills and abilities will change based on the needs of our customers and business climate.

What went right last year? 
The economy expanded at a great pace and we were able to manage growth, for the most part, to keep the level of service the same despite the volume of customers growing dramatically.

What is your No. 1 priority for the year ahead? 
Taking the long view. Labor pool is shrinking. Competitors are getting creative. We need to continue to build a lasting business model that is ready for the shifts in convenience and consumer demands.

What scares you most about the year ahead? 
Complacency and passiveness. Some of our partners (vendors, services providers, government representatives and customers) don't fully understand the shifts that are taking place and the pressures retailers have. I'm disappointed in their seemingly dismissive attitude towards change and recognition of the importance of convenience stores and the role they play in modern society. I counter that with leading questions such as: When you're on a road trip, where do you stop to use a bathroom, get directions, [find a] safe space, get a feel for an area?

Growth rate: 39.7%
2014 revenue: $7,878,808
2015 revenue: $10,317,385
2016 revenue: $11,006,377
Top executives: Lonnie McQuirter
Founded: 2005

Business: Independently run convenience store that specializes in providing locally sourced food to communities in South Minneapolis
Employees at end of 2014: Seven; now: 10

Lonnie McQuirter