Sheetz wants to remake the convenience store as we know it, and they’re coming to Pittsburgh to do it.
On Monday, the 67-year-old company announced the opening of a new office in East Liberty’s Bakery Square dedicated to technology, innovation and the general disruption of their traditional business model.
This new technology and innovation hub is about “helping Sheetz to put ourselves out of business, as we always aim to do,” says Emily Sheetz, assistant vice president of strategy for the family-owned company.
Speaking with NEXTpittsburgh, Sheetz describes the new office as an internal incubator that will take a long-term view of the industry. “Their mission is to really think about what convenience is going to look like ten-plus years from now,” she explains.
The location gives the company access to Pittsburgh’s wide pool of talent in emerging fields like robotics and artificial intelligence, though Sheetz says staff will not be limited to any one field of research.
“I really want them to have the freedom to explore many different future alternatives,” says Sheetz. “In general, I think Pittsburgh has developed itself over the past ten years into a really vibrant innovation ecosystem across the board. We’re really looking forward to being a part of that.”
The hub opens on Oct. 1 in Spaces at 6425 Living Place in Bakery Square. So far, the only employee is Mary Beth Green, office manager and head of innovation. But Sheetz says the company will post at least 10 positions online this week. By next year, Sheetz speculates that the company will have more than 20 employees in the hub.
While a dedicated innovation staff is a first for the Altoona-based company, Sheetz has a history of unique experiments in customer service.
Their touch-screen controlled sandwich bars are beloved by college students across the tri-state area, and just in the last year the company debuted a line of craft beer, a series of Bitcoin kiosks and premium line of CBD products.