Traffic moves along East Washington Street near the
Tri-Par gas station Thursday morning in Slinger. Casey’s
General Store has bought out Tri-Par’s Qwik Stop
locations including Slinger, West Bend, Newburg and
John Ehlke/Daily News
WEST BEND — The fifth-largest pizza chain is opening new
locations in Wisconsin, seven of which will be replacing
Tri-Par gas stations throughout the region.
At the end of
this month, Casey’s General Store will finalize a deal to bring in
customers to Cedarburg, Hustisford, Newburg, Saukville, Random Lake,
Slinger and West Bend with gas, groceries and pizza.
co-owner and president of Tri-Par, said its locations will continue
to be open and operate as Tri-Par gas stations until Nov. 26.
Starting that day, two stores will close every day. On Nov. 29, all
seven will be closed. Then, Casey’s ownership will be finalized and
the reconstruction will begin. The company plans on starting the
rebuilding process in February or March.
difficult for the Gall brothers to sell, but Steve said he and his
brother were approached by three buyers, and took into consideration
the industry and state of the economy in their decision to sell all
of marketing Mike Richardson said Casey’s, an Iowa-based company, is
always looking to expand within its 16-state area. The company
purchases between 60 and 80 stores each year, and acquires existing
locations to rebrand them, he said, so these seven new stores will
join a growing chain.
Gall said there
is a trend of larger corporations acquiring smaller businesses.
is changing; there is a trend of losing local businesses to bigger
chains. You see Walmart and Kwik Trips everywhere now,” Gall said.
“With the bigger businesses, you aren’t dealing with the owners on a
daily basis, so you lose that personal touch.”
The Tri-Par at Western and Wauwatosa roads in
Cedarburg is part of a business
that dates back to 1930.
Photo by Mark Justesen
This expansion of Casey’s continues the company’s growth in Wisconsin,
which includes already a new store set to be constructed in
“We’ve been in Wisconsin for a long time and always look for
opportunities to expand,” Richardson said. “Sometimes it’s when
opportunities come up, typically existing stores in pretty big
corners. We’ve had good luck with purchasing stores that have good
locations, and then remodeling them to what services we have to
There are many aspects that go into rebranding and reopening, but
the acquisitions from Tri-Par will be remodeled and reopened as soon
as possible, Richardson said. Casey’s has already received approval
to buy and rebrand the gas stations, and will also be opening new
stores in Hartford, Fredonia and other municipalities across
“We’ve been in the western side of Wisconsin for quite some time and
we’re now expanding into lots of places around Madison,” Richardson
said. “As we searched the Milwaukee area we found locations and
opportunities to purchase sites, which gave us a good opportunity to
expand in that direction too.”
Pizza and fresh food items are some of Casey’s strengths Richardson
highlighted, while Gall emphasized the family aspect of a small
“My family has been in the business for 88 years, and we really
appreciate the support from the local communities,” Gall said. “I
hope the local presence and for caring for the community is not
Richardson talked about the pros and cons of building versus
acquiring, and why these six Tri-Par gas stations will soon become
Casey’s General Stores.
“It really depends on each location — it’s preferential to buy
versus build, but it’s always nice to have that shiny new store and
have everything the same as it is in the large majority of the
stores,” Richardson said.
It may be more costly to build a new store from the ground up, but
acquired locations must have the space and capabilities for the
fresh pizza and bakery items, so there are variables that affect the
“If you talk to the communities, you’ll see that everyone certainly
likes to get a brand new store,” Richardson said. “And then you know
exactly what you’ve got there, that everything is working and under
What it comes down to, he said, is the location and what is best for
that specific community, which takes into account traffic going past
an intersection and the number of residents.
“We have stores all the way from a town of 500 people up to places
like our new store that we’re building in Indianapolis right now,”
Richardson said. “As a company, 57 percent of all of our locations
are in towns of less than 5,000 people. We seem to fit that niche
Tri-Par: An 88-year-tradition ends
would become the local chain of Tri-Par convenience
stores started in 1930 as a collaboration between three
local businessmen: Herbert Gall, Clarence Gueller and
Jack Klein. At the time, according to the Tri-Par
website, none of the men wanted any of their names on a
bill of lading for a train car of gasoline, so the
German depot agent suggested using the German word for
three, which is drei. The English equivalent was “tri”
and “par” was added as a shortened version of “partner.”
After a year of business, the three men went their
separate ways, but Gall kept the Tri-Par name as he sold
fuel door-to-door in Ozaukee and Washington counties. In
1945, he opened an automobile shop in downtown Cedarburg
and installed an automobile pump outside. He later
bought property at the northwest corner of Washington
and Western avenues and built his first stand-alone gas
station in the early 1950s.
the 1970s, and after adding additional locations and
expanding his fuel delivery business, Gall sold the
business to his sons. In 1986, Robert Gall bought the
business from his brothers. Tri-Par had carved out a
niche, though on a smaller scale, similar to that of
Casey’s General Store: specializing in providing
gasoline and convenience services to small communities.
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