Lawsuit Seeks $1.4 Million from Taylor Petroleum

Court documents suggest difficult financial situation

AMARILLO, Texas -- A bank and a merchandise supplier allege in a lawsuit they’ve been stiffed out of a combined $1.5 million by the Amarillo petroleum company that sold off 63 Taylor Food Marts in January.

Taylor Petroleum Cos. Inc. has denied Amarillo-based Herring Bank’s claims that the petroleum firm and its affiliates owe unpaid loan balances of more than $1.4 million, plus interest, according to report in the Amarillo Globe-News.

Taylor Petroleum has not yet answered a lawsuit filed earlier this month in Potter County Court by Ben E. Keith Co. of Amarillo, which claims it is owed $57,226 for merchandise under a credit pact with Taylor allegedly personally guaranteed by company president R. Kenton “Ken” Dorris.

Efforts by both the newspaper and CSP Daily News to contact Dorris were unsuccessful.

The civil court allegations, if true, shed light on financial situations Taylor Petroleum faced as it moved to divest itself of most, if not all, of its Taylor Food Mart chain in January, according to the newspaper account. A still-active Taylor Food Mart website lists 75 locations across Texas and in the Oklahoma Panhandle and Clayton, N.M.

Fikes Wholesale, a Temple company, announced Jan. 9 it had purchased 63 stores, as previously reported in CSP Daily News. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Some Taylor stores ceased operations around the time of the agreement.

For weeks before the sale, Taylor store shelves had become depleted and gas pumps were tagged “out of service.”

Stores had not received deliveries in weeks, according to employees at several locations, who declined to provide their names out of fear for their jobs, the newspaper reported.

Ben E. Keith said in the lawsuit it demanded Taylor Petroleum pay its delinquent bill plus 18% interest and attorney’s fees in a Jan. 19 letter, according to court documents.

Herring Bank filed financial documents showing it made loans of almost $3.8 million to Taylor Petroleum and affiliates between 2001 and 2008.

Fikes Wholesale operates an estimated 300 convenience stores, including the Taylor stores, and is not named in either lawsuit against Taylor Petroleum or its affiliates. Fikes is the parent company of CEFCO Convenience Stores, the brand under which it runs 194 of its locations.