AUBURN, Calif. — Flyers Energy LLC is celebrating 40 years in the fuel business.
The Northern California distributor, which has 300 automated fueling sites in 18 states, was founded as Nella Oil Co. in 1979 by four brothers: Tom, Walt, Steve and David Dwelle. They named the company after their grandfather, Walter B. Allen, who founded Beacon Oil Co. in 1931 (Nella is Allen spelled backwards).
In 2011, the Auburn, Calif.-based company was renamed Flyers Energy LLC to match the branding of its 39-store Flyers c-store network, and to reflect an expansion into alternative fuels. In the 1990s, the company installed solar panels on the fuel canopies and roofs of its c-stores. It has also sold compressed natural gas and E85 at some cardlock sites, and even invested in an ethanol plant. In 2014, CSP recognized Flyers with an Environmental Stewardship Award.
“We’ve reduced the impact volatile fuel prices have on our operation,” said Walt Dwelle, managing partner.
Since then, Flyers has expanded its focus on alternative fuel, investing in Calgren Renewable Fuels, which supplies gas sourced from cow manure and produces biodiesel. It is an equity investor in commercial solar projects in the western United States. Other investments include express car washes, commercial office buildings, a hotel and mobile home parks.
After selling off its c-store network, Flyers didn’t stay out of the fueling business. In 2018, it acquired the Quick Fuel automated fueling network, and it continues to distribute fuel to gas stations in California. More recently, it signed a multisite wholesale contract with SAMCO Food Stores and rebranded three of the company’s c-stores to Shell. In addition to unbranded fuel, Flyers is also a distributor of Chevron-, Valero-and 76-branded fuel, Mobil-branded lubricants and is said to be the largest member of the Commercial Fueling Network (CFN).