WORTHINGTON — Worthington's new Kwik Trip gas station, car wash and convenience store has been open since Sep. 19, and its Thursday grand opening celebration drew a sizeable crowd.

Leading up to the ribbon cutting with the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce and Convention Visitors' Bureau, Kwik Trip representatives presented some history and priorities of the company.

Founded in 1965, Kwik Trip has always been family owned, explained Leadership Development Specialist Carl Rick. Rick's grandfather, Don Zietlow, is the founder and president of the company.

Rick summed up the mission of Kwik Trip: "To serve the community and guests better than anyone else, and to make a difference in someone's life.

"We do sincerely believe that we can do that by providing food and fuel," he added.

Headquartered in Lacrosse, Wis., Kwik Trip has 640 stores and about 25,000 employees. The Worthington location will bring about 45 new jobs. On average, each Kwik Trip store contributes about $1.8 million in taxes per year, Rick said.

"We want to be a part of the community," Rick said. Immediately, Kwik Trip became involved with the Chamber, as well as the police and fire departments.

Kwik Trip is also committed to supporting community organizations. As part of the grand opening celebration, company representatives presented $1,000 each to the Worthington Police Department and Manna Food Pantry.

The company has its root in groceries, Rick explained, so it's able to get products wholesale at the same rates as bigger chains like Walmart. That allows Kwik Trip to offer competitive prices on food items. For example, he said, bananas are 39 cents per pound year-round. Perhaps because of this, Kwik Trip sells one million pounds of bananas every week.

To keep food fresh, each Kwik Trip store gets a delivery every day.

Rick told the crowd gathered outside for the Chamber ribbon cutting that Zietlow has always taught him, "'If you just take care of the coworkers, they'll take care of the guests.'" Kwik Trip invests in its employees and believes in rewarding hard work, Rick said.

He attributed the company's growth to three main sources: the employees, the communities Kwik Trip serves and the store guests.

Zietlow agreed with Rick's assessment that Kwik Trip coworkers make the difference in whether or not the company is successful. Without clean facilities (including bathrooms — Zietlow invites anyone who experiences a dirty Kwik Trip bathroom to call him directly) and friendly service, he said, Kwik Trip could not be what it is.

Both the gas station and convenience store in Worthington will be open 24 hours a day.