SAUKVILLE, Wis. -- With the sale of its seven Qwik Stop convenience stores north of Milwaukee in southeastern Wisconsin to Casey’s General Stores Inc., Tri-Par Oil Co. is exiting the c-store and retail fuel business.
The Saukville, Wis.-based company had already phased out its gasoline and fuel oil delivery business to focus only on retail.
Tri-Par has stations in Saukville, Newburg, Cedarburg, Random Lake, Slinger, West Bend and Hustisford, Wis. It will close its stores at the end of the month.
“We were approached by Casey’s and two other companies, and we talked to all three of them,” Steve Gall, president of Tri-Par, told CSP Daily News. “We reached the conclusion that we couldn’t compete anymore with the big guys, and given the state of the industry, my brother and I said maybe now is the time. We’re too young to retire, but with all of these people interested, when we want to really sell in 10 years, will they still be interested? Sometimes you’ve just got to take advantage of the situation at hand.”
“It was a difficult decision, but it felt like the right one at the right time,” he said. “We’ll figure out what we’re going to do next.”
“It’s a difficult decision because the business has been in the family for 88 years, and we’re leaving behind 95 great employees,” Gall told the Ozaukee Press. All Tri-Par employees will be offered interviews by Casey’s to retain their jobs.
Herbert Gall, Clarence Gueller and Jack Klein founded Tri-Par in 1930, according to its website. The owners went their separate ways after a year, but Gall continued to use the Tri-Par name to sell fuel to farmers in Ozaukee and Washington counties. He opened an automotive repair shop in 1945 in Cedarburg, Wis., and installed a pump out front. He built his first stand-alone gas station in Cedarburg in the early in 1950s, and more locations followed.
He sold the company to his sons in 1970s and they added convenience stores and self-service fueling. His son Robert bought Tri-Par from his brothers in 1986.
Casey’s plans to convert the seven Qwik Stops to the Casey’s brand from Nov. 26 to Nov. 29, Michael Richardson, Casey’s vice president of marketing and advertising, told CSP Daily News. “It won’t look like a Casey’s in three days, of course. We’ll need to take a look at which ones need to be remodeled or totally replaced, and start that in February. Right now, we’re just getting them switched over and up and operational. The things we plan to bring to those stores are Casey’s pizza and subs and all the other food programs we have.”
“We have certainly been in Wisconsin on the western side and southeast of Madison a bit, but we also have stores as fart east as Elkhorn," he said. "When we build our new distribution center in Terre Haute [Ind.] two or three years ago, we knew that it would give us an opportunity to expand—that’s where Ohio, Michigan, Tennessee, Kentucky and that whole eastern side of Wisconsin has really opened up for us. [This acquisition] really fits well with what we started there. These are great communities, and great opportunities. It takes a while to build them, but if you can get good locations and get them converted, that’s not bad either.”
A third distribution center is in the works, but Richardson could not provide any new details on the location or targeted opening date. “We’re getting closer,” he said.