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Wood, who in 1977 was made President and in 1981 elected Chief Executive Officer of Wawa Inc., describes a mathematical real estate plan that he oversees. Picture amatrix, he says. The stores are situated in four quadrants that are nicknamed according to their fate as Wood describes them: “Leave the Stars alone; close the Dogs; feed the Children; and milk the Cows.” The real estate plan for each of the 540-plus stores is updated annually.
Wawa means Canada goose in the language of the Lenni Lenape Indians that once resided on the Delaware County range.The land was a flyway for geese that migrated south annually. The logo of Wawa, Inc. is a long-winged Canada goose in flight. Dick Wood tends to travel and migrate, too.
“It takes me three years to get around the chain. I visit about 150 stores per year. I ride with a store supervisor each month at night. I want to see the second shift. The managers all know me. I’ll stop in to visit a store sometimes unannounced and I’ll introduce myself to the shift supervisor. I enjoy visiting the stores. You have twelve-to-thirteen thousand people working for you, and by putting in long hours (the stores operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year) something is always going wrong. I’ll be happy to cut back on that in retirement.”
With that Dick Wood comes back to family. His sister Elise Wood du Pont CW’58 is a 1979 graduate of the Law School. When Wood retires in the coming years he will be succeeded by EleuthPre du Pont, Elise’s son. After hearing about his peripatetic travel to each of the stores over the past three decades it’s difficult to imagine him content to be at rest. But as in the nature of the Wawa every being reaches a resting point that is well deserved after a long journey.
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