Popular convenience store and travel center chain QuikTrip has been pursuing an ambitious long-term expansion plan in the US since 2017 — announcing the significant spread of over 170 locations throughout Texas, Louisiana, and Colorado through early 2021.
Though much of the Tulsa, Oklahoma-based chain’s development plans have proceeded despite the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic and a nationwide shortage of building materials, the process hasn’t been without its hiccups — recently indicated by a March 12, 2021 lawsuit alleging nonpayment of $118,720.36 for construction activity at a new QuikTrip convenience store and gas station location in Seguin, Texas.
The case put forward by Fuller Excavation and Sitework, LLC claims that general contractor Cissell Mueller Construction, Inc. failed to provide a contract until almost a full month after work had proceeded, resulting in demobilization.
Though Fuller was eventually provided a contract and allowed to return to the job, scheduling issues on the part of Cissell Mueller caused numerous delays to the project, compounded by Fuller’s need to re-perform shredding and grubbing done prior to demobilization as a result of damages caused by Cissell Mueller and other subcontractors.
Non-payment could disrupt QuikTrip’s Central Texas expansion
Despite the fact that this particular incident hasn’t hampered the opening of the Seguin QuikTrip — and has yet to publicly impact QuikTrip’s expansion — the lien’s enforcement would have significant consequences — chief among them the possibility of losing the title to the land itself.
QuikTrip made a significant investment in the land ahead of its move into the San Antonio and Austin markets (the two established focal points of its Texas expansion), as it planned to open more than 100 new convenience stores, purchasing 18 lots in the San Antonio area alone with a combined property value of at least $10.4 million.
Fuller’s lawsuit notably isn’t the only issue that has originated from this particular project. According to a lien affidavit filed with Guadalupe county on November 12, 2020, ABC Supply Co., Inc. filed a lien for $11,601.23, raising the total for unpaid construction activity at this location to $130,321.59.
Although QuikTrip is not explicitly named in Fuller’s lawsuit, the recent history of its Texas expansion shows a significant number of issues related to payment for its construction projects. A lien filed by B.E. Seale, Inc. dba Four S Enterprises on March 5, 2021 alleges an unpaid balance of $107,798.57 for labor and materials at QuikTrip’s new convenience store and gas station in Cedar Park, Texas, continuing a trend of the filing of liens and complaints of slow payment for locations in and around both San Antonio and Austin going back to spring of 2020.
Having been established in the Dallas-Fort Worth area since 1999 (and with 134 stores in that market today), QuikTrip CEO Chet Cadieux spoke enthusiastically about the company’s central Texas expansion at the time of its announcement in 2017.
“San Antonio and Austin are really hot markets right now and we cannot wait to join the exciting landscape in those two great communities,” Cadieux commented.
Development issues may negatively impact QuikTrip’s national growth
This optimism has not yet translated to ease of the development process, as 2019 (notably prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and national materials shortages) and 2020 saw QuikTrip’s contractors report payment issues on 13% and 16% of projects, respectively, as they focused on building in these two markets — points made perhaps even more significant considering that 2018 saw payment issues reported on 0% of QuikTrip’s projects, according to their Levelset payment profile.
Though Fuller’s lawsuit is simply one of the most recent issues for the company, it is certainly emblematic of an uptick in recent construction concerns for the ambitiously growing brand.
Until this trend is bucked, it’s perhaps worth holding back some optimism for QuikTrip’s recent expansion into Shreveport, Louisiana and its planned construction of over seventy stores in the Denver, Colorado metropolitan area, as so far in 2021, contractors are still reporting payment issues on 10% of projects.