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    Big D Reveals Strategic Changes

    After closing three convenience stores, South Dakota oil company says it's focused and leaner.

    SPEARFISH, S.D. -- The decision to close convenience stores in Spearfish, Sturgis and Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota by Big D Oil came after a process of strategic reevaluation to better position the company for the years ahead, according to Big D Oil Co. President Mark Policky. There are no other anticipated closures leaving the company, which was started in 1963 with 30 convenience stores still operating.

    "This was a strategic decision to position us better for the future, it is not an indication we are on tough times," Policky said in an interview yesterday with The Black Hills Pioneer. "We just made a business decision at those sites that the best and highest use for the land is no longer a gasoline station."

    Big D has no plans to sell any of the real estate at this time and, in fact, the company is looking at other alternatives for the use of the land in those locations.

    This is the second of two major decisions undertaken recently by Policky, who took over as president of the company in 1985. A long-time Texaco gasoline and oil products retailer, Big D Oil recently changed some of its stores over to either the Sinclair or Cenex brands of gas and oil.

    Policky said that after Shell Oil and Texaco joined forces to launch Equilon Enterprises LLC four years ago, Big D felt like it was being squeezed out. And after Texaco was sold to Chevron two years ago, Big D lost the rights to the Texaco brand and had to decide whether to go with Shell or partner with more regional brands.

    Policky said he found a "great opportunity" to brand some of his stores with companies that had both regional refineries and utilized American crude oil to produce American gasoline. Sinclair has two refineries in Wyoming and Cenex has one refinery in Kansas and one in Laurel, Mont.

    Looking down the road a bit further, Policky predicted "we are going to grow in certain markets and enhance some existing stores in existing markets." He pointed to the Deadwood Big D station as a potential location he is looking at for an enhanced store in the future.

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