Development expected to bring jobs
The county board Feb. 19 accepted a $355,000 offer from Kwik Trip and Osceola Auto Body to buy tax-forfeited land in the Village of Osceola.
Scott Tiegen, vice president of Kwik Trip stores, and Dan Tronrud, owner of Osceola Auto Body, offered details to county board members at the Feb. 19 meeting.
“This is kind of an interesting story,” Tiegen said. “When we opened our Kwik Trip store in Amery — and this happens quite often — the neighboring town says, ‘What about us?’ We got a lot of calls and emails from people in the Osceola area saying, ‘Why don’t you put a store in Osceola?’
“If I had a dime for every time I looked for property in Osceola, I could retire,” he continued. “Then I was forwarded information about the 78 acres that had gone through the auction process a couple times. So we put an offer together at the minimum bid price [$250,000].”
Then Tronrud heard about the deal. Hoping to expand to the west of the body shop, he reached out to Tiegen. Together, they raised the offer to $325,000 before finding out that the county had $351,000 in unpaid taxes and special assessment on the combined properties.
“We raised it to $355,000 so the county is kept whole,” Tiegen said. “Now since then, Chuck and Diane Ebert at the flower shop (Wildwood Flowers) have asked if they could have some land too, so Dan and I thought we could make some room for them.”
The county’s approval is a first step in the process, as the Village of Osceola will have to rezone part of the property. If all goes as planned, Kwik Trip will sit north of Osceola Auto Body with access from the street near the senior living facility currently under construction off Highway 35.
“We would be facing north with gas pumps and the building,” Tiegen explained. “There would be a single bay car wash attached to our building. The diesel pumps would be to the west, with lanes to fuel two vehicles at a time.”
Tiegen also offered background on Kwik Trip.
“Getting bigger is not our goal,” he said. “We want to be the best.”
The company was named 2018 Chain of the Year by the Convenience Store Decisions magazine. It also won the award in 2004.
“The La Crosse, Wis.-based convenience store chain exemplifies what it means to be a ‘people company,’” the magazine wrote. “It is fully committed to guests, co-workers and its vendor partners, not as a strategy to grow the business, but because it’s the right thing to do.”
Results of employee surveys have consistently listed Kwik Trip as a top place to work, as reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal, The Minneapolis Star Tribune and the Des Moines Register.
According to Tiegen, the company shares 40 percent of its profits with all employees. Last year, employees received about 9 percent of their W-2 earnings as a cash bonus and about 3 percent into their profit-sharing plan.
“We pay good pay,” he continued. “Nobody works at minimum wage at Kwik Trip.”
In addition to 30 to 40 jobs, half of those full and half part time, Tiegen estimated the property’s tax value would increase by $2 million to $3 million.
• Bernie Desmarais of the Town of Osceola was appointed to the Board of Adjustment for a term ending May 31, 2021.
• County board members discussed pending claims and litigation in closed session. One pending claim from the Friends of the Stower Seven Lakes State Trail regarding the trail’s master plan; pending litigation in a suit filed by Peter Henry over alleged violation of open meeting law (which can also be traced back to trail planning); and a claim over “compensatory damages” regarding Public Administration Associates’ recruitment of a new county administrator. No action was taken on these items.
• Deputy County Administrator Andrea Jerrick announced that incoming county administrator Nick Osborne would start work Monday, Feb. 25.