Thorntons is a privately held company with more than $2.5 billion in revenue from its c-store division and petroleum-transportation fleet. It is one of largest privately held corporations in Kentucky. The company distributes its petroleum products through its wholly owned Thornton Transportation Co. and operates a river bulk storage terminal in Louisville.

The company, which was founded in 1971 by James H.Thornton, started with a single location in New Albany, Ind., and has grown steadily over the years. Originally, the chain was branded Payless Oil. In the late 1960s, Thornton sold the chain and began work on a new brand bearing his name. The first Thorntons location opened in Clarksville, Ind., featuring a kiosk building and a full-service attendant. In the 1980s, Thorntons transitioned from kiosk locations to convenience stores and grew to more than 100 locations.

The chain has remodeled half of its stores in the Louisville and southern Indiana markets with a design featuring a strong focus on foodservice. In September 2015, it finished a remodel on a Louisville store to make it kitchen-focused; it offers hot breakfast, lunch and snack items, along with many other foodservice offerings. So far, renovated stores have shown an increase of 50% or more in sales of food products. The overhaul includes adding a full-production kitchen in the middle of the stores where staff prepares fresh sandwiches, burritos and pizza throughout the day. The store design features multiple roof lines, neutral colors inside and out, and wider aisles.

When it comes to expanding, the c-store chain would rather build than acquire.

Headquarters:Louisville, Kentucky
No. of Stores:182
Average Store Size:4,000+ sq. ft.
Rank Last Year:51
States of Operation: Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee
Family Business:Yes