Company News

Workman Oil Enters Kentucky

Acquires 15 Shell Food Marts from distributor Thomas Investments

FOREST, Va. -- Workman Oil Co. has entered a new market with the purchase of 15 Shell Food Marts from Thomas Investments, a full-service Shell gasoline, distillates and lubricants distributorship based in Beattyville, Ky. Larry Bowling, vice president of operations and marketing for Workman, told CSP Daily News the company closed on the purchase in May for an undisclosed sum.

The acquisition includes eight Subway, two Lee 's Famous Recipe Chicken and one Krystal Hamburger restaurants, in addition to a proprietary deli offering.

The Shell Food Marts are in central and eastern Kentucky, [image-nocss] a new market for Workman Oil, which is a family-owned operator of 32 Apple Market stores in Virginia. “Kentucky is a breath of fresh air, where people actually are interested in being the best that they can be and make a little money on the bottom line,” Bowling said.

Workman plans to continue growing outside of its home market in Virginia, and Bowling said the state of the U.S. economy makes growth through acquisition the company 's preferred route for now.

“We do ground-ups, but in today 's market, I think it 's more advantageous to look at acquisitions if they fit the mold that we 're looking for,” he said. “In some parts of the country, people actually believe that you 're supposed to make a little bit of money on gas, and there are other parts of the country, like where we 're home based in Virginia, people think that you 're not supposed to make any money on gas. So the economics have to be right for you to make that decision on whether you 're going to do ground-ups or acquisitions. If you do an acquisition in an area that is not making any money on fuel, you 're buying something that 's probably losing money or very close to losing money.”

Bowling added that the Thomas Investment stores will be rebranded to Workman 's Apple Market name, but the Shell gasoline will remain because Workman already has a working relationship with Shell Oil.

"The Thomas Investments stores were an excellent fit with our company," Robert Workman Jr., CEO of Workman Oil, said in a press release. "The stores are high volume, and the employees are very customer-service oriented.”

Thomas Investments owner Barbara Thomas said in a press release that her family had been looking for "the right type of buyer" for the c-stores for quite some time.

“We didn't want to sell to one of the larger chains that would change everything,” she said. “We wanted to sell to someone that would keep our local office staffed with our long-term employees, keep using the common carrier we have partnered with for over 30 years for fuel deliveries and treat the employees like we have treated them over the years—like a big family.”

To that end, Workman did hire all of Thomas ' employees, according to Bowling.

Prior to this purchase, Forest, Va.-based Workman Oil owned and operated 32 stores in Virginia under the Apple Market brand, offering BP and Shell gasolines.
Meridian Associates Inc. of Weatherford, Texas, coordinated the sale.

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