Is Wawa from Canada? An Expert's Perspective

Founded in 1964 by Grahame Wood, Dick's once-ousted first cousin, Wawa began as a roadside dairy market in suburban Philadelphia. But as the company continues to expand and does so without franchises, Wawa must figure out how to maintain its employee training and reputation for customer service on a large scale. Located on the banks of Jeep Lake, between Wawa, Chapleau & Sault Ste. Marie, the municipality of Wawa is best known for its famous goose monument that overlooks the entrance to this picturesque community.

Our hostel offers private rooms, cabins, laundry and great restaurants. Like Wegmans or In-N-Out, Wawa is often described as a cult brand, a regional player, a Mid-Atlantic specialist confined to a small niche. Its founder probably wouldn't recognize Wawa today, as it expands all over the East Coast and boldly tries to get out of the gas station ghetto to compete with companies like Panera, Starbucks and Sweetgreen. Constantly, adds Rich, who left a role at Coca-Cola and spent two years working shifts at Wawa stores 24 hours a day before his father let him into headquarters.

The Woods also crossed paths with other local, politically connected dynasties; the chemically renowned du Ponts and the McNeils, of the Tylenol fortune, play secondary roles in Wawa's story. That is beginning to become evident throughout the Wawa empire, including in the shiny new complex that looms over Red Roof, the family's century-old estate at the Wawa headquarters. Dick Wood spent the 1980s and 1990s expanding Wawa's product line beyond dairy meats and delicatessen, gradually transforming Wawa from quasi-grocery to a sandwich shop. In an anecdote, Haley made a house visit to a regular, an 89-year-old woman who fell and contacted the Wawa for help, and drove her to the ER.

Which will not necessarily stop Wawa from trying to sell it, as long as it can fit into what Gheysens declares to be the ultimate goal of all this transformation. But it really dates back to 1902, when Grahame's grandfather, George Wood, opened the Wawa dairy farm, which would eventually supply that store. A half mile from the renewed Wawa celebrations, in a larger, newer Wawa with gas pumps outside and tables in the back, General Training Manager Denise Haley is overseeing operations. After decades of selling cheap gasoline and cigarettes and made-to-order sandwiches to suburban crowds, Wawa is starting to stop emphasizing two of the three.

My parents from the Midwest moved to Delaware County in Pennsylvania, home to the Wawa headquarters and many of its stores, when I was 6 years old. In the early 2000s, Dick also gave interviews for articles that named his nephew, the then president and chief financial officer of Wawa, Thère du Pont — yes, one of those du Ponts — as his successor.

Tristan Gagliardo
Tristan Gagliardo

Proud social media ninja. Bacon expert. Unapologetic gamer. Proud zombie nerd. Freelance pop culture scholar.

Leave a Comment

Required fields are marked *