2017-09-07 / Business News

Wawa veteran happy to helm first Collier store

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BY ROBBIE SPENCER


WALLS WALLS Naples residents with northeastern roots rejoiced with the grand opening of Collier County’s first Wawa store on Aug. 31. Dozens of Wawa fans were lined up at 8 a.m. to be among the first who stepped foot in the bright, new, 24-hour, one-stop gas station/hoagie/coffee store at the corner of Radio and Livingston roads.

Wawa’s roots go back to the early 1800s, when it began as an iron foundry in New Jersey. It has reinvented itself over the generations as a dairy company and fresh food market, along with other convenience-aimed offerings.

The Naples store is Wawa Inc.’s first of three planned locations in Collier County. The company has a ravenous following in the northeast, near its Pennsylvania roots. The chain has more than 750 convenience retail stores in the U.S., all located in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Florida. With many part-time Naples residents based out of the north, the audience for a Wawa store here is already built in.


Surrounded by staff and Wawa dignitaries, General Manager Terry Walls wields the scissors at the grand opening of the first WaWa in Collier County. Surrounded by staff and Wawa dignitaries, General Manager Terry Walls wields the scissors at the grand opening of the first WaWa in Collier County. Northeasterners are well versed with Wawa’s iconic hoagie and coffee offerings. Everyone who waited in line on opening day received a free coffee, and all who stop in through Sept. 10 will enjoy the same.

Terry Walls is leading the 5,636-squarefoot location as general manager. Along with a team of nearly 40 employees, Mr. Walls was on hand opening day. Dressed in suit and tie, he doled out free T-shirts and interacted with happy customers. The Virginia Beach native transferred to Florida last spring and has since overseen the opening of Wawa’s Lehigh Acres location and led its Cape Coral team.

“Terry is a wonderful asset to the area,” said Sheri Walker, area supervisor for Wawa in Southwest Florida. “He’s always willing to lend a helping hand, provide advice, share his knowledge and go the extra mile not only for his store and the area, but the company as a whole.”


Teams from the Collier County Sheriff’s Office and the Greater Naples Fire Rescue District raced to make hoagies. Both were declared winners by the Wawa Foundation and received $1,000 for the charity of their choice. 
COURTESY PHOTO Teams from the Collier County Sheriff’s Office and the Greater Naples Fire Rescue District raced to make hoagies. Both were declared winners by the Wawa Foundation and received $1,000 for the charity of their choice. COURTESY PHOTO Mr. Walls started at the bottom rung in the food business, with his first job being in a grocery store as a bagger. With more than two decades of experience in the industry, he said Wawa’s community involvement is what drew him in.

“Initially, my wife saw a hiring sign near our house and said I should apply. I connected with the Wawa culture and values and knew it was an organization that I wanted to be a part of,” he said.

He became a general manager in 2007, spearheading a number of new locations, training new employees and connecting with the community. He has been very pleased with his move to Southwest Florida.

“It’s a great place to visit and an even better place to live,” he said.

The grand opening activities in Naples included a “Hoagies for Heroes” sandwich building competition, with members of the Collier County Sheriff’s Office and Greater Naples Fire Rescue District facing off to see who could build the most hoagies in three minutes.

The firefighters won the contest and took home a trophy. Wawa’s charitable arm, the Wawa Foundation, declared each team a winner, however, and presented $1,000 to each to give to the charity of their choice. CCSO donated its check to the Collier 100 Club, which provides immediate financial assistance to the families of fallen police and emergency responders; the Greater Naples Fire Rescue District turned its earnings over to the Greater Naples Fire Foundation. Wawa also donated $2,500 to the Harry Chapin Food Bank. ¦

Interview with Terry Walls

Business mentors: I’ve worked for a variety of managers, and they’ve all made big impressions on me. They’ve shown me how I want to manage and how I don’t want to manage. My management style has been influenced by my experiences with each of them.

First job: I was a bagger in a grocery store.

Favorite business book: “Give ’em The Pickle … and They’ll be Back!” by Bob Farrell.

Business words of wisdom: Treat people how you would like to be treated.

Any job openings now? Yes! Check www.wawa.com for information and applications.

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