CEFCO's Super Stop

Company excited about purchase of remarkably similar Deweese chain.

TEMPLE, Texas -- Similar structures, complementary marketing areas and diverse business strategiesthese are among the reasons CEFCO Convenience Stores, the retail arm of Fikes Wholesale Inc., chose to purchase Deweese Enterprises Inc. and its chain of 45 Super Stop! convenience stores, as reported in a CSP Daily News Flash yesterday.

"The company originated like us. It's second-generation. They are diverse like us; they have an ice operation and a trucking company and their own fleet-fuel card, which we have also," Mike Hinshaw, executive vice [image-nocss] president of retail of CEFCO, Temple, Texas, told CSP Daily News. "It just made sense to look at it when we found out it was available."

That was in August, when the Super Stop! chain was put up for sale.

"Selling the company has been a tough decision, but we believe it is the right one for our family at this time," CEO Doug Deweese said in an August press release. "We have recently reimaged our store network and the company is well-positioned for additional growth in our key market areas."

He added in a follow-up interview with CSP Daily News in October, "It's a difficult environment to sell, buy and/or finance. The fuel volatility is practically unmanageable from a small-operator point of view. We have cut costs to the bone to break even at 13 cents per gallon in September; so we are in lean fighting form."

The purchase includes 45 c-stores in Mississippi and Alabama, a fuel distributorship, a fleet-fueling card under the name Fast Fuel and Funtime Ice.

"The similarities between the two companies are quite remarkable," said Fikes CEO James Fikes in a statement yesterday. Both companies are family owned and operated and are in their second generation. Fikes Wholesale was founded in 1945 by James Fikes' father, C.E. Fikes, while Mississippi Senator Glen Deweese, father of Doug Deweese, began operations of Deweese Enterprises in 1966.

Fikes Wholesale has its own fuel card, Fleet Fuel, which matches up to Deweese's Fast Fuel, and Sunbelt Ice, which coincides with Deweese's ownership of Funtime Ice.

Both have a long history of community service that is manifested in Fikes' commitment to the Children's Miracle Network and Deweese's involvement with St. Jude's Children's Hospital.

Fikes Wholesale operates several other business entities, including Cord Financial Services, a nationwide ATM provider with over 1,200 ATMs currently in place; Group Petroleum Services, a fleet of common carrier fuel transports; and JF Air Traffic, a charter jet service based out of Temple.

"We are extremely excited about this acquisition and look forward to the synergies that will be created as the best practices of both companies are shared with each other," Fikes said. "Both companies are focused on being the best in class in their respective marketplaces, and the future certainly looks bright."

Hinshaw added that the purchase fits well within 78-store-chain CEFCO's previously stated goal of growing to as many as 200 stores in the next few years. "We've actively been acquiring smaller chains," he said, noting the purchase of the eight-store Diamond Oil chain in Waco, Texas, last year. "And we've been actively building six to nine stores a year."

He continued, "We're growing through new-store build and the acquisition process. This just happened to be larger than any other project we've taken on, but it fit very well. They have nice facilities. They're not among some of the old, tired chains that you've got out there. These stores fit into the footprint we've outlined for ourselves."

Meridian, Miss.-based Super Stop! represents four decades of family commitment. The company was founded in 1966 by Glen Deweese, who founded the company after he had worked in the industry for several years and recognized the potential of the undeveloped c-store marketplace at the time. His son Doug Deweese assumed leadership of the company after his father's death in September 2001, bringing with him 25 years of industry experience.

NRC Realty Advisors LLC, Chicago, directed the sale.

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