Home Oil Company is a ‘home oil company.’
The company is family owned and operated. The owner and former president, Tom Shirley, and his wife Jo, started the business in 1966. Their son, Tim, has become president and his sons have joined the business.
‘Being a family-owned and operated business, we are able to cooperate with each other and get much more accomplished,’ said founder Tom Shirley. ‘We extend that family relationship to our employees and maintain positive self-esteem. Once a policy is established, it gets the attention necessary to see that it is administered properly. Having many people here with a vested interest in the company makes it possible for us to follow through with the promises we make and the policies we set.’
Tom Shirley, HOME OIL COMPANY founder, left his career with Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company in 1966 to purchase a Phillips 66 Distributorship in Ashford, Alabama. Initially the company sold approximately 20,000 gallons per month, most of which was diesel fuel for agricultural use. There were two employees in addition to Tom and Jo Shirley. In 1970, Home Oil Company acquired the Pure Oil distributorship and converted everything to Union 76.
In 1976 Home Oil Company’s first computer system was installed, allowing the corporation to become fully automated. At about this time, a new consumer movement was under way. There was less demand for full-service gasoline at a lower price.
In 1978, Home Oil Company ventured into the area of retail sales when they purchased a convenience store which also sold self-service gasoline.
After the success of the first convenience store the company converted two closed facilities into thriving stores. Stores Number Two and Number Three were ‘born’ into the HOME OIL COMPANY family.
With such success, business quickly outgrew the small corporate office in Ashford. With a firm belief and a vision of just how big the business would be, the Dothan and Ashford offices were combined into the new corporate office which was built in Cowarts, Alabama. This location between Dothan and Ashford allowed the company easy access to their various stores. The corporate offices were opened concurrently with the fourth convenience store.
In early 1983, after building yet another store, the company having decided that it needed its own retail identity, named their convenience/food stores HOCO.
In 1984 HOCO’s fourth store was acquired from EZ Way Food Store Chain and became the Number Four store in the HOME OIL COMPANY Family.
In 1985, store Number Eight was built in Samson, Alabama; with the addition of a deli in this store one more facet was added to the services of The HOCO Stores.
During 1988, Home Oil Company, Inc. decided to re-identify its retail division; their entry into the deli business created an area which needed different marketing. The HOCO Food Store was converted into THE HOBO PANTRY and a new image was created. A new store, number twelve, was built to fully utilize and celebrate this new image. This new location was used nationally as a guide for other convenience stores.
In early 1988, as the retail business experienced rapid growth, Home Oil Company, Inc., saw the need to expand its wholesale base. The acquisition of Gee Oil Company in Blakely, Georgia, brought with it a large industrial customer base. At this time the BP Brand was acquired which allowed the company to become a dual marketer selling both BP and Chevron Petroleum Products.
As time has rolled on, the third generation of family was evolving. Tim Shirley’s sons, Dustin and Ryan joined Home Oil Company and have become instrumental components in daily operations.
As the success continues, Home Oil Company continues to grow. Home Oil now owns 26 retail facilities.
Today, Home Oil Company sells 65 percent of its volume or about 2,000,000 gallons of gasoline monthly. In addition the company sells around 1,000,000 gallons of light products and 25,000 gallons of lubes, oils and greases monthly to farm and commercial accounts in southeastern Alabama and parts of Georgia and Florida. ‘Ideally, we’d like our business mix to reach 60 percent retail and 40 percent wholesale,’ Tim Shirley says. ‘We see that as the perfect balance.’
Home Oil Company currently operated in three states, employees over 200 people and delivers over 3.5 million gallons of petroleum products monthly to Wiregrass consumers. Quite a success store for one family—a home oil company—who started with one station and two employees in Ashford, Alabama, selling 20,000 gallons of gasoline a month.
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