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PLEASANT GROVE, Utah -- Following the trend of continued consolidation in the industry, San Antonio, Texas-based Tetco Inc. acquired the assets of Ivan Walker, Inc., which includes 23 Walker's Food & Fuel stores in Utah, as well as the chain's fast-food franchises and its wholesale operations.
Tetco operates more than 1,100 convenience stores in nine states. It also has interests in oil and gas exploration, real estate development and the construction industry.
Although terms of the transaction weren't disclosed -- both companies are privately held -- Walker Oil operations manager Mark Walker told The Salt Lake Tribune that Tetco intends to continue to use the "Walker's" name on the newly-acquired stores.
Utahns Ivan and Colleen Walker and their family are exiting the retail and wholesale gasoline business after more than 50 years. "My dad's 77 years old, and he's been in this business all his life. And my two brothers, my sister and I were raised in it," Walker said. "So it was a shock that our family finally reached the point where we were willing to sell."
Family members agreed that accepting Tetco's offer and selling the company was for the best, Walker said, adding, "My dad told us that these opportunities didn't come along every day. And he said that given the current state of the industry, if we were to keep the company, we either had to get big in a hurry or we'd be lost."
Tetco first approached the family last year, according to the newspaper.
"At that time, we told them we were doing OK, but if they were serious they could come back and visit with the family," Walker said. "About six months later, Tetco made it clear they were going to buy something in Utah and we started seriously negotiating with them."
Walker and his siblings all owned a piece of the company. "We're all well provided for, but it's going to be hard. We're used to getting up every day and going to work. Helping grow the business is the only thing we've known," he told The Salt Lake Tribune.
All the company's employees have jobs with Tetco, and Walker and his brothers, Michael and Bryce, have six-month contracts. "Maybe they gave us those contracts to help them with the transition and maybe see how things work out with us," Walker said. "So who knows what might happen."
Walker said his father purchased his first store from his grandmother after he returned from serving in Alaska during the Korean War. "He put his heart and soul in the business and saw it grow from one store to a company with more than $100 million in annual revenue."