The Big Question: Tom Brennan, chief merchandising officer, Casey’s General Stores

 The Big Question: Tom Brennan, chief merchandising officer, Casey’s General Stores

February 2024   minute read

What does being an advocate for our industry mean to you?

In this industry, there’s such a frequency of interaction. We feel such a connectedness to our guests and to our communities. And so that’s why when there are things that are threatening to the industry, or that would be disruptive to a great guest experience, we’re going to passionately advocate for our position to be heard.

At Casey’s, it really comes down to living our purpose, which is to make life better for our communities and guests every day. Advocacy is one of the avenues that allows us to ensure we are best positioned to do that consistently in all the different communities where we operate.

We have a significant impact on the local economy, on the state economy. Given the number of transactions in our stores, the amount of revenue that our stores generate and the taxes that revenue also generates, we feel it’s critical for us to remain engaged, particularly on things that impact our ability to serve our guests in those communities.

About half of Casey’s stores are in towns of 5,000 people or less. I do not think you can overstate the importance of our stores in these towns as we quite literally are the center of those communities. Our store managers become kind of de facto town mayors and that situation creates a deep sense of responsibility for that manager and for that store team because of what their service represents to their neighbors. That sense of responsibility is shared throughout the entire Casey’s organization, and I think you see that in how we show up as a brand.

I’m proud that Casey’s has taken a leadership position on issues that are important to the industry. We were proud to be able to host Senator Roger Marshall in one of our stores in Topeka, Kansas, and thank him for being a warrior in the fight against excessive swipe fees. His visit helped to reinforce the importance of the legislation that he’s co-sponsoring, the Credit Card Competition Act, and the impact that it can have on the American consumer. This isn’t just about Casey’s or the convenience store industry, it is about benefiting every American family.

One of the things we’ve done in support of the Credit Card Competition Act is adding a QR code for the link to our voter voice website on our store tablets. Every Casey’s store has a couple of tablet devices that we use for different operational tasks, and the code makes it easier for every Casey’s team member to speak to elected officials. We want to make sure that we’re continuing to spread the message and ensure that Casey’s, at 43,000 team members strong, is using our voice to the fullest extent.

The importance of civic engagement and being a good citizen to me is certainly influenced by the fact that I am a third-generation veteran.

Growing up with my dad in the service and living on Army bases and living overseas, from my earliest memories, the importance of service was ingrained in me. My four years at West Point followed by my six years on active duty in the U.S. Army only served to strengthen my commitment to living that out. Now I feel incredibly fortunate to be at Casey’s and to be on the board of NACS, where I can be directly engaged on so many important issues. I also serve on the political engagement committee at NACS, and that is truly an amazing platform to be able to continue that passion and interest that I have, and to do so in a way that is beneficial for the industry and, of course, for Casey’s.