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SALT LAKE CITY — Founded May 1, 1916, Salt Lake City-based Sinclair Oil Co. takes great pride in the fact that it is one of, if not the, oldest continuous brands in the oil business. At one point, it was also one of the largest U.S. oil companies, with a national network coast to coast. At its peak, the company was publicly held and ranked the seventh largest oil company in the United States.
Today, it is family-owned and its marketing division comprises 400 branded distributors and 1,325 stations in 24 states. With the exception of just a handful of sites, its current operations are all concentrated west of the Mississippi River.
With a new brand licensing program, though, Sinclair has its sights set once again on having a national presence, expanding east of the Mississippi and marketing its fuel coast to coast, according to Jack Barger, vice president of marketing and supply for Sinclair, which celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2016. The last time the brand was national was in the mid-1970s.
“Our brand licensing program will be a significant part of our business in the future,” Barger, who has been with the company six years, told Convenience Store News in an exclusive interview. But he quickly added that as Sinclair navigates its next 100 years, it will stay true to its past and committed to the core attributes the brand has come to be known for.
“Because we’re privately owned, our customers tell us all the time that we manage and operate our business a lot like they do. We’re more flexible; we are more adaptable to what our customer needs are. We don’t have lot of layers of management. Our owner comes to work every day and knows everyone here,” Barger explained. “We’re just friendlier. We’re known for our personal relationships, which is why some of our customers have been with us for more than 50 years. We really care about their success, and we try to respond to the challenges they’re facing and help them through our brand investments and promotions.”
The fully integrated oil company is involved in exploration, refining, transportation and marketing. The company owns two refineries: one in Sinclair, Wyo., and the other in Casper, Wyo. While its supply capabilities are currently limited to the 24 states where it operates today, the new brand license program will provide unlimited expansion potential. (The company also doesn’t require minimum volume standards because it markets in a lot of rural locations.)
A licensed location is identical to every other Sinclair location, but the company do not provide the fuel supply. The retailer does, however, have to source a gasoline that meets or exceeds Top Tier standards.
With its biggest license markets in the West Coast states, particularly California, Sinclair is steadily extending eastward. Since 2011, the company has grown by 40 percent in the Rocky Mountain region, and much of its branded growth focus this year has been on the Midwest.
By the end of 2015, Barger told CSNews that Sinclair expects to have 80 locations in the brand license program, including sites on the East Coast. From this point on, the goal is to double the number of sites year over year – adding another 80 in 2016, 160 in 2017, and so on.
“Our goal is to have Sinclair branded stations in every state. After all, everybody loves the dinosaur,” he concluded.
For more on Sinclair’s centennial and its growth plans for the future, look in the December issue of Convenience Store News.