Mergers & Acquisitions

Family Express Acquiring 6 Freedom Express Stores

Two deals set to increase chain’s store count by 10%
freedom express family express
Photograph courtesy of NRC Realty & Capital Advisors

VALPARAISO, Ind.— Family Express is acquiring six Freedom Express convenience stores from Freedom Oil LLC in Kosciusko and Marshall Counties in Indiana. It also has acquired a three-acre site in McCordsville, Ind., that has been redeveloped into a Family Express site.

Together, the deals will increase the Valparaiso, Ind.-based chain’s store count by 10%.

The Freedom Oil locations are in the Warsaw, Ind., area, where that company has its headquarters. Freedom Oil came into being in July 2002 after the Cobb family purchased four stores from Gast Fuel and Oil and built additional stores. It is a family-run business operated by Greg and Sheila Cobb and their daughter, Jennifer. It is a female minority-owned business that back to the community by participating in fundraisers such as the Spirit Pumps.

“When our family came to Warsaw in 2002 to purchase four gas stations, I couldn’t have imagined how we would have not only turned them into the new, updated stores they are now, but how this community would have welcomed our business and our family in such an inviting and caring way,”  Greg Cobb, owner of Freedom Oil, told the Times Union. “Though we may be stepping away from the convenience store business, we have made Warsaw our home and will remain active members of the community to give back some of what each and every person who has come into our stores these last 19 years have given to us.”

He said that “turning over the Freedom Express stores to another family-owned and -operated business not only lets me know that the stores will be taken care of, but the community as well. Seeing the Family Express operation and knowing Gus Olympidis, the customers of Freedom Express will be very impressed with the quality and service they will be receiving at the newly branded stores in the late spring.”

The other location that Family Express acquired is in the Indianapolis suburb of McCordsville. It has been upgraded to Family Express standards and features the FE proprietary Cravin’s To-Order food offering. The company has begun starting construction to add a car wash and a pet wash.

Family Express’ strategy is to feature a car wash at half of its locations, the Valparaiso, Ind.-based company said. With more than 70 c-stores, Family Express is No. 95 on CSP’s 2020 Top 202 ranking of c-store chains by company-operated store count.

“We are flattered that the Cobb family chose Family Express,” Alex Olympidis, president of operations for Family Express said. “The compatible cultures of the two companies will help immensely in the transition process.”

Chicago-based NRC Realty & Capital Advisors LLC handled the transaction, expected to close by late April.

Upon closing, said Olympidis, Family Express will convert the Freedom Express stores to feature NCR/Optic technology at the pump. “Family Express, in collaboration with NCR, has already delivered advanced technologies to the Family Express network,” he said. “These technologies include two first-time innovations in the c-store space. One is the ability to order food at the pump and pay concurrent with the gasoline purchase. This removes unnecessary friction by ensuring that the customer does not go through the payment process twice. The other is TransArmor/Fiserv security at the pump, which eliminates the possibility of a major security breach. TransArmor fragments access to the entire deck rendering a breach undesirable to a potential hacker.”

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