Cory and Melissa Hodapp’s new business is the product of some careful planning.
Cory is a general contractor and owner of CJ’s Construction. Melissa is a broker associate with Skogman Realty. The couple also owns rental properties.
When considering their needs in eventual retirement, they decided it was best to diversify into a new line of business.
“We didn’t want all our eggs in one basket,” Melissa recalled. “Real estate can be so up and down.”
They decided a gas station and convenience store would be a good fit. With Melissa’s background as a real estate broker, they identified four potential locations for the new business, ultimately selecting a site near the interchange of Highways 30 and 151 in Cedar Rapids.
Cory designed and oversaw construction of a 10,000-square-foot building on the site, which includes the store, named The Station, and a 5,000-square-foot commercial space currently available for lease.
The Station features a brick pizza oven that is the centerpiece of the kitchen, a walk-in beer cooler covered in faux stone to look like a cave, an outdoor grill and large patio area, and fully automatic restrooms.
“To be independently owned and competitive in this market, you have to be different, and that’s why we put so much into this store,” Cory said.
After some additional research, the Hodapps decided to brand The Station with Phillips 66 gasoline. They also went with Champs Chicken after determining that line provided good support and training.
The Hodapps opened The Station on Dec. 28, 2012, knowing December and January typically are the slowest months for convenience stores and they wanted to use that time as a training period.
What they didn’t plan on was winter weather causing problems with the new gas pumps and card readers, requiring them to make adjustments almost immediately.
“You have to keep an open mind,” Melissa Hodapp said of those initial challenges. “You get things thrown at you and mishaps happen.”
The couple’s current plans include an open house on Sept. 18 at which they will have prizes, food giveaways and outdoor grilling.
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