ABOVE: ZIP IN in Lynnville is now under new ownership and management. Manager Denise Vanderpol, center, is flanked by the group of investors who purchased the gas station and convenience store along with their wives: From left, Barry Beyer, Steve Russell, Vanderpol, Matt Zylstra, and Jer Schnell. Offering hot food during all hours of operation is one of many changes the group has implemented since the June ownership transfer.
A group of local investors has purchased ZIP IN in Lynnville, the town’s go-to place for ice cream, pizza, fuel, and more since 1992. Steve and Linda Russell, Matt and Heather Zylstra, Barry and Linda Beyer, and Jer and Jodi Schnell officially took over ownership of the gas station and convenience store located on the corner of East and 1st Street on June 1, and they are already putting their positive stamp on the place.
ZIP IN, most recently owned by Tim and Marcia Rodibaugh, has been on the real estate market for the past two years. S. Russell and M. Zylstra initially started the conversation to buy ZIP IN with the goal of keeping the gas station and convenience store operating as a pillar business in Lynnville and serving the needs of the community. Discussions grew more serious and the duo reached out to B. Beyer and Jer Schnell. All four families have strong connections to Lynnville – through residence, employment, church, and business – and all agreed to invest in the business and focus on serving the Lynnville-Sully community.
Each investor and their wives bring their own level of expertise and talent to the table of ownership. This has proven to be very important as they navigate the learning curve associated with operating a successful gas station and convenience store.
“We have had a lot of fun and challenges in the transition,” said Russell. “Tim and Marcia Rodibaugh were instrumental in assisting us with the transition.”
The fun part has included the gratitude expressed by community members for keeping ZIP IN operating strongly in the small community. Some of the challenges the investors have faced include learning the many regulations involved, from health inspectors for the food services to the DNR’s rules regarding underground storage tanks. Just three days into operation under the new ownership, one of the fuel pumps stopped working. Fortunately, everything was back up and running in half a day.
Another important piece making the venture a success is the recruitment of ZIP IN’s new and experienced store manager, Denise Vanderpol. Vanderpol at one time spent several years managing Casey’s in Sully. Her experience at the helm has been invaluable. “Without Denise, we would never have acquired ZIP IN. Denise brings a high level of energy and expertise in the industry,” said Russell.
The new owners were also fortunate to retain all of the ZIP IN employees, and have added two new faces to the payroll. Russell credits Kathy James, a long-time ZIP IN employee, for making the transition easy as well. “Kathy James has been an extremely valuable employee during the transition,” said Russell. “She came in early and stayed late to make sure things were going well. Our other employees have also provided a great deal of leadership.”
The addition of two new employees was made in anticipation of handling the hot and fresh food that is now available all day in the self-service display cases.
“From day one, we wanted to make sure we had food available all day. We have had several positive comments that our customers are happy to be able to buy a sandwich in the afternoon or a slice of breakfast pizza at 11 a.m.,” said Russell.
More customer-friendly changes are ahead for ZIP IN as the investors and employees settle in their new roles. Daily specials and homemade-type meals are possibilities the group is exploring.
ZIP IN will be hosting a grand opening week July 1-7. During this time they will have daily food and drink specials you won’t want to miss!