Although Wawa is famously a Pennsylvania company, its key supply and distribution partners are clustered in South Jersey—not by coincidence, but because Wawa has the muscle- to insist they set up shop near its Bridgeport distribution center. That hasn’t always been happy economic news for Philly proper, since it’s moved jobs out of the city, but it shows Wawa’s impact on regional employment beyond its own payroll.
In Carneys Point, McLane Grocery, the nation’s largest supplier to convenience stores (owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway), operates a vast warehouse with 400 employees, which, unlike McLane’s other buildings around the U.S., serves just one customer: Wawa. McLane delivers packaged goods, including cigarettes, to Wawa stores. Ready Pac Foods, in Swedesboro, has a staff assembling the Wawa-label pre-packed salads, wraps, parfaits and cut fruits that fill the grab-and-go island in every store—another way to get customers in and out quickly.
In Vineland, Omni Bakery produces every hoagie roll Wawa serves. “We probably supply them with something like 65 to 75 million rolls a year,” says Omni and Amoroso’s Baking Company co-owner Len Amoroso. That’s just less than 200,000 a day.
In its move to Jersey, Omni became the exclusive hoagie-roll provider to Wawa—before, there had been a few. So Amoroso is making a lot of bread. “Let’s put it this way,” he says. “It’s hard not to do well with them.”
Wawa’s Bridgeport distribution hub—known as the “cross dock”—is in a warehouse adjacent to Uptown Bakeries, whose primary purpose is to bake the pretzels, cookies, doughnuts and muffins trucked to every Wawa store every night. (The sugar cookies, if you like the kind that are slightly gooey inside, are unbelievable.) Uptown’s operation here is another enterprise that exists just for Wawa. Local junk-food conglomerate J&J Snack Foods bought Uptown in 2000, in part because Uptown had a contract to supply soft pretzels to Wawa, says J&J CEO Gerry Shreiber. J&J also bought Philly institution Federal Pretzel, moved it in with Uptown, and eventually leveraged its pretzel tie to Wawa to take over the pastry case, knocking Dunkin’ Donuts out of there.
Every night, 57 Penske trucks transport the hoagie rolls from Omni, the grab-and-go items from Ready Pac and the bakery goodies from Uptown to every Wawa store. Every crate of food is labeled for its store; every truck is tracked by GPS. Most Philly-area store deliveries are done by 1 a.m., which is when your glazed doughnut will be its freshest. If you’re at your local Wawa in the wee hours and see an unmarked truck unloading racks of food, get ready to watch an employee dump leftover doughnuts from the bakery case into the garbage (d’oh!).