Clark Aims to Double Store Count This Year

Gasoline brand underscores efforts in West, South

Steve Holtz, Editor in Chief, CSP Daily News

NAPERVILLE, Ill. -- As Clark Brands LLC prepares to celebrate its 80th anniversary (and cope with the passing of CEO Karl Goodhouse--see Related Content below for previous CSP Daily News coverage), the iconic gasoline brand continues to venture farther West with promises of bringing "on some new locations right quick."

"We're going to work on Arizona, New Mexico and Texas; those are the focus today," Clark spokesperson Gregory Mauro told CSP Daily News, "and then next year, it might be another state or two. … Don't count us out in the South, too: Louisiana, Florida. We've got dedicated field people down there pedaling the Clark brand."

Since reviving the gasoline brand about seven years ago, Clark has been ambitious in its plans to expand into new markets and, ultimately, across large swaths of the United States.

"The goal is to saturate as much of the Clark brand as we can and to spread out within the states where we are," Mauro, communication and marketing manager for Clark Brands, Naperville, Ill., said. "That's the point behind the western expansion: Establish a firm foothold, open several flagship sites, grow the brand in those states, and then move westward, and maybe northwest, as time goes on."

Currently, Clark has operations in 29 states and the District of Columbia. It works with more than 180 marketers and supports more than 950 branded and unbranded merchants with payment-processing services and marketing programs.

Many of Clark's recent successes have been in the Midwest, but the landing of wholesale customers in the West and South is providing jumping off points for the brand's growth.

"We grow in areas where the majors have vacated because of supply, or we grow with our partner marketers by providing an alternative offer to the majors," Mauro said. "There are [retailers] who just don't want to brand with the majors. They don't want to sign a long-term agreement. For the marketer, we're a utility tool to help retain or acquire those dealers that don't want to sign with the majors. And we're also the go-to folks when you've got a new location or a single-store offering that has a special need that the majors may not address."

Calling itself "the choice of independents," Clark has clearly delineated its customer of choice and is going after it with fervor.

"The independent to us is the guy that doesn't want to be aligned with the major brands," Mauro said. "They want that option of sourcing their own fuel. With Clark, you don't have to sign a supply agreement."

Clark currently has 450 branded merchants. By the end of this year, it expects to top the 1,000-site mark.

"We're 80 years old this summer," Mauro said. "It's an overnight success 80 years in the making for us. We continue to grow at a regular pace where others are shrinking."

For more on Clark and other growing fuel brands, look for the May issue of CSP magazine.

Steve Holtz, CSP/Winsight By Steve Holtz, Editor in Chief, CSP Daily News
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