The acquisition of Clark County-based Speedway in 2021 allowed 7-Eleven Inc. to dramatically increase its convenience store/gas station footprint across Ohio and the U.S., but it cost hundreds of local jobs and left the region with one less corporate headquarters.
Employment at Speedway’s former corporate headquarters in Mad River Twp. near Enon has dropped significantly since the convenience store and gas station company, then owned by Marathon Petroleum Corp., was acquired by 7-Eleven for $21 billion in May 2021.
The number of jobs is now lower than is required under the terms of a tax abatement awarded to the company in 2018.
There are currently 900 people working at the former Speedway headquarters at 500 Speedway Dr., which 7-Eleven renamed the Enon Store Support Center, according to a statement issued in February by 7-Eleven’s media office in response to questions from this newspaper.
Credit: JIM NOELKER
Credit: JIM NOELKER
As recently as August 2022 there were 1,490 people working in those buildings, said Ethan Harris, director of development for Clark County. But last summer the Irving, Texas-based 7-Eleven announced it would lay off 880 support staff and field operations employees in Texas and Ohio as it absorbed Speedway.
In a Friday email after this story published online, the 7-Eleven media office said the company had 990 employees in the Enon building in August 2022, not 1,490 employees.
That conflicts with the information given to the county by a top 7-Eleven official in an Aug. 30, 2022 email responding to county questions, according to public record emails obtained by this newspaper.
“There are approximately 1,490 employees at the Enon Store Support Center, 72 positions were eliminated in July. Nationwide 880 positions were eliminated as a result of the workforce reduction,” wrote Keith Jones, who at the time was vice president of government affairs at 7-Eleven.
In an emailed statement to this newspaper in February about the current workforce there, the company’s media office said, “There are 900 employees across departments like accounting, customer service, HR, maintenance, merchandising, IT, operations support and more who are currently based at the Enon Store Support Center building.”
“We are nearly two years into our integration process following the Speedway combination and have made significant progress during that time. We remain committed to our growth strategy, which includes the Enon Store Support Center,” the statement said.
The company is hosting a March 7 hiring event to fill jobs in customer service, information technology support and alarm center dispatch. Those jobs will support customers, employees and franchisees across the company’s brands, which include 7-Eleven, Speedway, Stripes, Laredo Taco Company and Raise the Roost Chicken and Biscuits, the company said.
“We are actively hiring for 30 open roles and have plans to open more on a rolling basis,” the media office said on Wednesday.
Clark County doesn’t track employment at Speedway stores and the company did not respond to most questions, including about the total number of Speedway store employees in the Dayton-Springfield-Butler County region.
7-Eleven, Inc., whose Tokyo-based parent company is Seven & i Holdings Co., gained 3,800 Speedway stores in 36 states when it bought Speedway in 2021.
But the Federal Trade Commission alleged that the sale violated federal anti-trust provisions and later that year 7-Eleven, Inc. and Marathon Petroleum Corp. agreed to divest 292 fuel outlets in Ohio and 19 other states.
About 79% of the nation’s 150,174 convenience stores also sell motor fuels, like Speedway does, and 80% of the motor fuels purchased in the United States are bought at convenience stores, according to the National Association of Convenience Stores/Nielsen Convenience Industry Store Count.
Ohio is a popular market for convenience store companies, ranking 7th in the U.S. with 5,673 of these stores, the data show.
Credit: Mark Freistedt
Credit: Mark Freistedt
Speedway tax break included jobs pledge
In 2018 Clark County Commissioners approved a property tax abatement for Speedway’s construction of a new building at the corporate office complex, said Harris. The building was completed in 2021, which is when the tax abatement took effect.
“Speedway committed to retaining 830 positions and creating 200 for a total of 1,030. In return, they received a 100% for 15 years property tax abatement,” Harris said. “The county collects (employment) information required by the state annually. The information is then reviewed by the Tax Incentive Review Council and submitted to the commissioners for final review.”
With the acquisition of Speedway, 7-Eleven retained both the tax abatement and the job commitments, Harris said.
Companies getting tax incentives report their data, including jobs numbers, to the state annually and the county’s Tax Incentive Review Council meets in late spring or early summer to review the status of company commitments, Harris said.
“At that time, TIRC makes recommendations to the Board of County Commissioners to amend, suspend or terminate the agreement,” he said.
Credit: Bill Lackey
Credit: Bill Lackey
7-Eleven did not respond to a request for comment about the the job numbers falling below the committed number.
The state of Ohio gave Speedway three grants related to the expansion project, including a $1.25 million economic development grant for equipment, a $300,000 workforce development grant and $700,000 for public roadwork improvements. Those awards included job commitments totaling 1,125 that the company had three to five years to achieve, according to then-State Rep. Kyle Koehler, R-Springfield.
Loss of corporate headquarters
Companies with corporate headquarters in a community often play roles in civic life, and Speedway did so in Clark County.
“Speedway has had, and continues to have, a positive and impactful corporate and civic presence in the Clark County community,” said Horton H. Hobbs IV, vice president of economic development for the Greater Springfield Partnership. “We look forward to a strong relationship with the company for years to come.”
With the sale of Speedway, Hobbs said Clark County remains home to three corporate headquarters: Yamada North American Inc., Konecranes’ Region Americas headquarters, and Seepex Inc.’s North American headquarters, as well as many regional offices and branch facilities of several international companies.
Enon village officials hope 7-Eleven will increase employment at Speedway and continue civic involvement.
“We hear that they’re going to be around for a while, which is good news,” said Enon Village Administrator Kevin Siferd. “The village is eager to work with them and hopefully they’re eager to work with us hand-in-hand on anything in the future.”
Enon Mayor Tim Howard said he was encouraged that 7-Eleven continued Speedway’s practice of assisting with the village’s National Night Out last August, donating hotdogs and potato chips.
“We did have a very good relationship with officials from Speedway and what we are doing now is we are rebuilding those relationships with 7-Eleven. Again I’m very hopeful that we will have a good relationship with 7-Eleven, hopefully comparable to what we had with Speedway,” Howard said.
“From a jobs standpoint and from a community involvement standpoint, we’re hopeful that we are going to go in the right direction.”
Convenience store growth
With the acquisition of Speedway, 7-Eleven’s market share grew to 8.5% and expanded the company into new areas, said Riley Dugan, associate professor and chairman of the management and marketing department at the University of Dayton.
”I think it makes sense for 7-Eleven. Being a traditional convenience store many of their locations just historically have been in more urban areas. By acquiring Speedway, which has a lot of locations in more rural areas (and) more suburban areas I think it expands their geographic footprint a bit in terms of different population density, demographics,” said Dugan.
“So I think (the acquisition) definitely makes sense from that perspective. Speedway’s a well-known brand.”
7-Eleven has the largest market share in the convenience store sector and held that spot even before acquiring Speedway, which ranked third before the sale, said Jeff Lenard, vice president of strategic initiatives for the National Association of Convenience Stores.
Quebec-based Alimentation Couche-Tard, owner of Circle K, has the second largest market share in that sector.
7-Eleven now has 13,000 stores in 44 U.S. states and Washington D.C. and 78,000 store, field operations and corporate employees in the U.S. and Canada, according to the company. Another 4,600 7-Eleven franchisees operate nearly 7,200 stores and employ approximately 72,000 people.
Convenience store growth is on the upswing, increasing 1.5% since 2022, after four years of decline, according to the National Association of Convenience Stores/Nielsen Convenience Industry Store Count.
“The store growth is related to the value of convenience. Everyone wants more convenience,” said Lenard.
“The biggest trend right now is the continuing move into restaurant-quality food. The category of food service, (meaning) prepared food and dispensed beverages, accounts for more than a quarter of all sales in stores and more than a third of profit dollars.”
Credit: Mark Freistedt
Credit: Mark Freistedt
The Dayton-Springfield-Butler County region has proven to be a draw for convenience store expansion, with Wawa announcing it is interested in the Dayton market and Sheetz last year saying it would open about 20 locations in the Dayton area over the next five years.
Casey’s General Store, which Lenard said has the third largest market share among convenience stores, last year announced it will expand it’s area operations into Beavercreek.
The Dayton-Springfield-Butler County region’s location proximity to Interstates 75, 70, and 71, likely is one of the draws for these businesses that are so reliant on travelers, Dugan said.
And for urban communities with fewer shopping choices a convenience store may be their only nearby option, Dugan said.
Lenard anticipates there will be more mergers and acquisitions in the convenience store/gas station sector, especially among the many smaller regional players.
“We have seen them increase in the last few years and that’s because there can be some first or second generation stores that somebody in the family may not want to take over,” Lenard said. “The value of stores right now is pretty high so if you are thinking about selling it’s a good time.”
7-Eleven and Speedway hiring event
When: March 7 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: Enon Store Support Center, 500 Speedway Dr., Enon
What: Hiring even to fill 30 job openings in customer service, information technology support and alarm center dispatch.
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