A True Pioneer Passes Away

Hogarth was entrepreneur, leader, philanthropist

Pioneer Energy Murray Hogarth (CSP Daily News / Convenience Stores / Gas Stations)

Murray Hogarth

BURLINGTON, Ont. -- Murray Hogarth, who founded Pioneer Petroleum (now Pioneer Energy LP), Ontario's largest independent petroleum retailer, with a single gas station in 1956, died on Aug. 11. He was 83.

"Murray touched the lives of thousands of people including employees, customers, and business associates who benefitted from his dedication, work ethic and generosity," said Pioneer Energy spokesperson Dave MacFarlane. "More importantly he has ensured that financial support to the communities he cared for so deeply will be ongoing in perpetuity through various foundations, as well as the company's commitment to key causes such as children's hospitals and military families."

Hogarth opened his first Pioneer gas station in Nov. 1956 in Hamilton, Ont.

"Competing with that era's bland-looking gas stations was easy", Mr. Hogarth said. He put dramatic overhead canopies on his stations, and decorated his sites with bunting and flags.

He also put attendants right at the pumps, providing guaranteed "Instant Circle Service"--cleaning windows, checking oil and offering gift stamps, the predecessor of today's Pioneer Bonus Bucks.

The introduction of Canada's first modern car wash helped Murray shift many of his stations into high gear by offering a free wash with every fill-up. Murray Hogarth never stopped innovating and evolving with the times, the company said, proving he was a true pioneer.

Today, Pioneer Energy is Canada's largest private independent fuel marketer, serving customers through 400 retail locations across Ontario and Manitoba.

Murray and his wife, Diana, were recently recognized as Philanthropists of the Year by the Burlington Community Foundation, which they helped establish in 1999. He also served as Chair of the Hamilton Community Foundation, and established more than 50 private businesses and in many respects led the way in the community foundation movement in Canada.

"Murray was a great Canadian," former Burlington mayor Rob MacIsaac told The Hamilton Spectator. Terry Cooke, head of the Hamilton Community Foundation, called Hogarth "a remarkable man and a giant in the business community." Hogarth had aided the foundation and served on its board.

Ron Foxcroft, head of Fox 40 International and Fluke Transport, called him "a tremendous leader."

Over the years, Hogarth has donated money to Hamilton Health Sciences, Joseph Brant Hospital, McMaster University and the United Way of Burlington and Greater Hamilton, the report said.

All are Pioneer Energy's sites are franchises or dealer-operated, and the majority are located in Ontario. About half the sites are branded Pioneer (146 locations), while the rest of the dealer-locations are branded Esso. It also recently launched the Verve convenience store concept.

Hogarth retired from day-to-day operations in 1998 and was succeeded as CEO of Pioneer Energy by his son Tim, who continues to guide the business today. He is survived by his wife, Diana, five sons and 13 grandchildren.

Pioneer Energy is Canada's largest private independent fuel marketer and distributors by volume focused on meeting the energy and convenience needs of Canadians. Founded in 1956, Pioneer Energy operates in Ontario, Manitoba and Atlantic Canada delivering a broad range of convenience and energy products including: gasoline, propane and diesel; commercial fuels; home-heating fuel; and lubricants. Pioneer Energy markets through over 400 gasoline/convenience retail locations under the Pioneer and Esso brands across Ontario and Manitoba including bulk plants and a transportation network across Northern Ontario and Atlantic Canada.

CSP Daily News sends condolences to his family, his friends and his colleagues.

Click here to view the full Hamilton Spectator report.

Part of CSP's 2014 Convenience Top 101 retailers