Tetco Takes Walker's

Regional retailer will keep name; family exits business with sale of 23 stores in Utah

PLEASANT GROVE, Utah -- After more than 50 years in the retail and wholesale gasoline business, Utahns Ivan and Colleen Walker and their family have sold their Walker's convenience stores and other assets to San Antonio, Texas-based Tetco, reported The Salt Lake Tribune.

Tetco operates more than 1,100 c-stores in nine states. It also has interests in oil and gas exploration, real estate development and the construction industry. It completed late last week its acquisition of the 23 Walker's Food & Fuel stores in Utah, the family's fast-food franchises [image-nocss] and its wholesale operations, the report said.

Gasoline brands include Chevron and Phillips 66. Branded foodservice includes Wendy's, Subway and Taco Bell.

Although terms of the transaction were not disclosed, Walker Oil operations manager Mark Walker said Tetco intends to continue to use the Walker's name on its newly acquired Utah stores. There are locations from North Salt Lake to Hurricane. 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, Mark Walker told the paper. 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, he said. My dad told us that these opportunities didn't come along every day, Walker added. 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.

In recent years, there has been a consolidation trend within the retail gasoline industry, said the report. Larger companies are gobbling up smaller ones, John Hill, state director for the Utah Petroleum Marketers & Retailers Association, told the newspaper. It has been happening in Utah and everywhere else.

In December, Dallas-based 7-Eleven announced it was purchasing 10 stations/c-stores in the Salt Lake area from McKee Oil. Those stations operated under the Kicks 66 name.

Walker said Tetco first approached his family last year. At that time, we told them we were doing OK, but if they were serious they could come back and visit with the family, he told the paper. About six months later, Tetco made it clear they were going to buy something in Utah, and we started seriously negotiating with them.

Walker said he 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.

The company's employees have jobs with Tetco, Walker said. And he and his brothers, Michael and Bryce, have six-month contracts. Sister Deone was not involved in the day-to-day operations of the company. They gave us those contracts to help them with the transition and maybe see how things work out with us, he 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.