March 31, 1971|
Vineland, New Jersey, United States
|Known for||President & CEO of Wawa Inc.|
Chris Gheysens (born March 31, 1971) is an American businessman who serves as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Wawa Inc., a privately held chain of convenience store / gas stations with over 800 locations along the East Coast of the United States.
He grew up in Vineland, New Jersey and worked in his youth at car washes that his father owned. He attended St. Mary School in East Vineland and then moved on to St. Augustine Preparatory School in Richland, New Jersey, graduating in 1989. After earning a B.S. in accounting from Villanova University in 1993, Gheysens earned an M.B.A. from Saint Joseph's University in 2005, both located in Philadelphia. His family would spend their summers in the Jersey Shore community of Sea Isle City.
Gheysens was hired by Wawa in 1997 and was named to serve as the company's chief financial officer and chief administrative officer in 2007. In 2012, he was named as Wawa's president and became the chief financial officer in January 2013, after a 16-month-long transition from his predecessor, Howard Stoeckel. He is identified on his business card as "Lead Goose", a riff on the company's logo of a flying goose, a title that he describes as fitting in with the loose corporate culture at Wawa. Gheysens has overseen an extensive remodeling project for the company's stores to establish a "warmer tone" for customers, rollout of a mobile app and expansion into North Jersey and Florida.
At the Villanova School of Business, Gheysens is a member of the dean's advisory committee. He has also been active with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Red Cross. In September 2013, Gheysens was named to serve a three-year term on the Economic Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. In October 2013, he was one of four members added as retail members serving on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Convenience Stores.
Gheysens traveled to Rome in 2015 as part of a delegation coordinating aspects of the papal visit to Philadelphia as part of Pope Francis's 2015 visit to North America. As one of the corporate sponsors of the World Meeting of Families, Wawa was contributing one million bottles of water for those participating at the event.
He lived in Washington Township, Gloucester County, New Jersey before moving to Moorestown, New Jersey with his wife and four children.
- DiStefano, Joseph N. "Wawa's new boss", The Philadelphia Inquirer, October 17, 2013. Accessed October 8, 2015. "Gheysens, who lives with his wife and four kids in Gloucester County, grew up in Vineland, where his father owned a string of Sparkle Kleen car washes."
- McGrath, Tom. "How Much Bigger Can Wawa Get? New CEO Chris Gheysens talks what's next for the beloved convenience store chain.", Philadelphia (magazine), February 4, 2013. Accessed October 8, 2015.
- Staff. "Prep Grad Becomes CEO of Wawa", Prep Talk, February 8, 2013. Accessed October 8, 2015. "St. Augustine Prep alumnus Chris Gheysens (Class of 1989) recently took over as the CEO of Wawa, the largest convenience store chain in the Greater Philadelphia area."
- Laday, Jason. "As Wawa celebrates 50th anniversary, CEO remembers Vineland store", South Jersey Times, April 15, 2014. Accessed October 8, 2015. "'My dad would have a bunch of change from the car wash, and he was like the banker for everyone over there at the Wawa,' said Gheysens, a graduate of both St. Mary’s in East Vineland and St. Augustine College Preparatory School. 'South Jersey is a big part of Wawa, and it is definitely part of me — I grew up in Vineland, and my parents had a summer house in Sea Isle. I moved to Washington Township — or ‘Township’ as they call it — after marrying my wife, and we raised our four children there.' Gheysens, who currently resides in Burlington County, will be spending Wednesday morning at Wawa's very first store, which opened in 1964 in Folsom, Pa., for a ceremony at 6 a.m."
- Nicholson, Chris. "Driving Success Through Business Analytics: Wawa’s President Speaks to Students", Villanova Business, Summer 2012. Accessed October 8, 2015. "Chris Gheysens ’93 VSB, CFO and President of Wawa, discusses his company’s use of business analytics to expand its profitability."
- DiStefano, Joseph N. "The Long and Shorti of It", SJU Magazine, Summer 2012. Accessed October 8, 2015. "Wawa President Chris Gheysens ’05 (M.B.A.) wakes up and smells the coffee every day, whether he’s rallying management and store associates, sifting new-product sales and cost analytics, or pairing breakfast with a fresh-brewed cup.... Gheysens, a native of Vineland, N.J., whose father ran a chain of car washes, was taught compatible ideals in his own Catholic schooling — he graduated from St. Augustine Prep and Villanova University."
- Batcha, Becky. "He's top 'goose' at chart-topping Wawa", The Philadelphia Inquirer, July 27, 2015. Accessed October 8, 2015. "Q Your title is president and CEO, but your business card says 'lead goose.' Why do you prefer that? [A] That's just part of the Wawa way."
- Cirilli, Kevin. "Next CEO Christopher T. Gheysens Explains Philly's Wawa Love Affair; Plus: Bangin’ quesadillas, healthy eating options and the business’s expansion.", Philadelphia, April 23, 2012. Accessed October 8, 2015. "I have three brothers and grew up in South Jersey, spent my summers in Sea Isle, graduated from Villanova and then got my MBA at St. Joe's."
- "Executive Profile: Chris Gheysens", Bloomberg Business. Accessed October 8, 2015.
- Drake, Samantha. "Why Wawa’s CEO serves first and leads second; With a new 'lead goose' at its helm, Philly’s favorite convenience store is heading off growing pains with a laser focus on its values", Philadelphia Smart CEO, October 2013. Accessed October 8, 2015.
- Kress, Melissa. "Wawa CEO Chris Gheysens Details His Year One ChecklistAfter a 16-month transition, he began his tenure armed with a six-point plan.", Convenience Store News, April 29, 2013. Accessed October 8, 2015. "In August 2011, Wawa Inc. began preparing for a leadership change. Former CEO Howard Stoeckel announced he would be retiring from his role and the Wawa, Pa.-based company tapped then-Chief Financial Officer Chris Gheysens to take the helm.... Even though his business cards read 'Lead Goose,' he stressed that the strategic planning process at the company is the result of teamwork."
- Staff. "Bank Announces Appointments to Economic Advisory Council", States News Service, September 19, 2013. Accessed October 9, 2015. "The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia today announced the appointment of Ernest Dianastasis, managing director and principal, Computer Aid, Inc. (CAI); Chris Gheysens, president and CEO, Wawa, Inc.; Patrick Magri, senior vice president of managed markets and policy, Merck and Co., Inc.; and Michael Pearson, president, Union Packaging, LLC, to serve three-year terms on the Bank's Economic Advisory Council."
- Staff. "Nacs Names Four New Retailer Members to Board of Directors", States News Service, October 14, 2013. Accessed October 9, 2015. "The NACS retail members elected to serve on the Board of Directors are: Tim Chalk, CEO, 7-Eleven Hong Kong and Macau; Steve DeSutter, president and CEO, Stripes, LLC; Chris Gheysens, president and CEO, Wawa Inc; and Leo Vercollone, president and CEO, Verc Enterprises Inc."
- Staff. "Wawa CEO Chris Gheysens Helping Plan Pope’s Visit", Convenience Store News, June 26, 2015. Accessed November 23, 2016. "Wawa Inc. CEO Chris Gheysens is one of 35 delegates in Rome, Italy, to hammer out logistics in advance of Pope Francis' visit during the World Meeting of Families, taking place Sept. 22-27 here. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Wawa will be a corporate sponsor of the event, and will be donating all food to volunteers, as well as 1 million bottles of water to attendees."
- Monostra, Mike. "Wawa Planned to Open Near Moorestown Mall; The convenience store will be located at the former location of Classic Chevrolet.", Moorestown Patch. Accessed October 8, 2015. "Wawa CEO Chris Gheysens is a resident of Moorestown."