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May 3, 2021 23 min
Franciscan Spirituality Center
920 Market Street
La Crosse, WI 54601
608-791-5295

Steve Spilde: Today it is my extreme pleasure to welcome John McHugh. John is a longtime presenter for the Spiritual Direction Preparation Program. He has presented Biblical Spirituality to our participants and does an amazing job. Beyond that, John is a very popular presenter at the Franciscan Spirituality Center. [He is] a wonderful Biblical teacher [and] a wonderful representative of what it means to embody spirituality in life. Welcome, John.

John McHugh: Thank you. Steve. It’s good to be here.

Steve: Just to say a few things about John, John had a part of his life where he was very involved in ministry. Then for the last 16 years he’s been part of the senior management team for Kwik Trip, who is a big employer in the area surrounding La Crosse, Wisconsin. That area continues to grow, and you’ve been part of that growth. How would you describe your current job?

John: Steve, that’s a great question. I have a lot of different things I do, and none of it fits into a single title. Officially, I’m the Director of Public Relations, but on a broader scheme, anything to deal with culture in our company. [That includes] making sure that we live our mission and values as a company. [I] oversee a lot of what happens in our training program. I work with the family members who come into the company, [meaning] the third generation and the grandkids now coming in to work with them. I make sure that they get on the right foot, and I spend a lot of time out in public talking about our culture at Kwik Trip. We’re listed as a top workplace in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa. This last year, even Glassdoor nationally [ranked Kwik Trip] the 79th-best company to work for in the country, which is pretty huge for a small regional company like this. A lot of places want to know how you create that kind of culture, so I’ll go out and give keynotes and addresses about that.

Steve: Knowing you, you really do identify what you do as a ministry. How would you draw the parallels between more traditional forms of ministry and what you do in the business world?

John: I would say this. As a matter of fact, when Don Zietlow, our CEO and owner, hired me 16 years ago, he knew that I did a lot of public speaking [and] adult education, a lot in the gospels and in religion. Officially, he said, “When I hire you, I’m going to bring you on deck and you’re going to tell the same stories you’ve already told. But sometimes you’re going to take out the name Jesus.” I have former students in mind from Aquinas who are now here at Kwik Trip who say, “I remember when you told that story back at Aquinas, and now you tell it here.” It really is telling the same stories, but in a way that helps all of us realize that no matter where we’re at in life, the gospel is alive and well and keeps us going.
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