O&A Masthead

Colorado News —
December 2015

Columnist — Joyce Trent

DENVER — A fixture in the petroleum business, Denver-based Pester Marketing Co., has been sold.

World Fuel Services of Miami, Fl., has acquired Pester and its subsidiaries, Alta Fuels LLC and Alta Transportation LLC, for an undisclosed amount.

Pester operates 57 convenience stores in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska and New Mexico. It also owned two terminals and distributed of biofuels and lubricants to wholesale, commercial and agricultural customers.

Colorado flag

The company's roots were in a start-up called Pester Oil, developed by Cloyd and Esther Pester in Jefferson, Iowa. Cloyd ran the station and delivered Skelly Oil to rural customers. For family reasons the Pesters later moved to Corydon, IA., opening an independent gasoline station that led to a chain of convenience stores.

When Cloyd died prematurely in 1955, Esther assumed leadership, soon turning over day-to-day operations to her son, Jack Pester, and his cousin, Jim Schaefer. Although they rapidly expanded into southern Iowa and northern Missouri, the headquarters remained modest, located in the family home, next to station No. 1, with all bookkeeping, fuel and accessories crammed into the small office.

Jack Pester was the driving force. He lived in Des Moines and commuted to the business in a small airplane. When he was ready to land he buzzed the station and the manager of a friendly customer went to the landing strip to pick him up.

The business was promoted with offers of free goods, including cases of a soft drink and glassware. Its slogan "gas for less" became well known. It was one of the first to construct a canopy.

Jim dropped out of the family business to run his own company.

As Pester grew it needed a new headquarters. It was built in what had been Esther's garden.

In 1966, Jack and his sister, Peggy, bought controlling interest from their mother and, under the label P & S, affiliated with a refiner that gave them better access to fuel. In 1976, Pester Refining company was formed to acquire the refinery of a major oil company.

In early 1986 came a downturn in the industry. The following year, Jack Pester leased marketing properties to Coastal, joining the firm as senior vice president. His sister remained the sole employee of the downsized Pester company. But Jack was not done with Pester for long.

In 1996 he retired from Coastal, selling them all but seven of the marketing properties. Then he resumed control of the seven locations in Denver he had hung onto and proceeded to rebuild the company. New properties included car washes and other innovations.

By 2010, Pester had stores in Kansas and Nebraska as well as in Colorado. Alta Fuels, a wholesale distributor with a fuels plant in Alamosa Co., and lube oil outlet was purchased to serve as a base to expand into northern New Mexico.

By the end of the decade Pester had 51 stores.

Rich Spresser, president and CEO, who has been with the company for more than 20 years, directed operations of Alta Convenience, Alta Fuels, Alta Lubricants and Alta Transportation from the headquarters, which remained in Denver.

Jack Pester continued to serve as chairman until the sale and has received numerous industry awards. He leaves one of the largest privately owned convenience store and petroleum marketing firms in the country.

World Fuel promises to take the firm to the next level. It is a global distributor of fuel and related products and services to the aviation, marine and land transportation industries. It has clients in 8,000 locations in more than 200 countries. It has been on a fast track of acquiring numerous important wholesale firms since 2008. Among those added were Texor Petroleum Co., TGS Petroleum, Inc., Lakeside Oil, Western Petroleum and Carter Energy Corp.

COLORADO SPRINGS — It was only a matter of time.

One-stop shopping for gasoline and marijuana has come to Colorado Springs with the opening of Gas & Grass.

The parent company, Native Roots, which already had jumped onto the lucrative bandwagon carrying medical marijuana, started selling gasoline as well as weed at one new location in the city last month with plans for another within weeks.

Because convenience stores are prohibited from selling pot, the building is divided into two sections—one housing the standard convenience store with gas pumps and the other with a separate entrance for the dispensary.

While the entire public can get their gasoline there, not just anyone can purchase marijuana. Unlike many areas of the state whose voters approved retail sale of marijuana, Colorado Springs requires a medical prescription card authorized by a doctor. There are 188 stand-alone licensed dispensaries here. Gas & Grass just escaped a recently imposed moratorium, having already obtained its licenses.

Although expansion of the business model will have to wait, it is widely expected to occur.

Marijuana enthusiasts are thrilled, but not everyone likes the idea.

The city's main newspaper, The Gazette, stated in an editorial that when voters approved sale of medical marijuana, "Few expected medicine sales at gas stations. The public's 2012 decision anticipated a regulatory structure—like the control of alcohol sales that would segregate drug retail from candy, soda, gasoline and such.

"This is common sense. Everyone operating a vehicle should be stone-cold clean and sober and not enticed to buy drugs each time they need fuel."

The law will be strictly followed, company officials said. There will be no smoking allowed inside the dispensary and age limits will be enforced.

Tia Mattson, spokeswoman for the Denver-based Native Roots, said the company prides itself on breaking boundaries.

In addition to marijuana, the dispensary will sell marijuana-themed shirts, hats and souvenirs.

"We definitely are leaders and we are visionaries," said Mattson. "It's just one more thing for us to pair up the shopping and convenience of gas for a patient to knock off both errands at one time."

Native Roots will offer loyalty discounts to their marijuana patients. Mattson envisions a process similar to that used by grocery stores and warehouse retailers with gas stations.

PAGOSA SPRINGS — Aurora Wright has always had a commitment to preserving the environment, manifested by such activities as restoring hiking trails on Mount Rainier and attending the first Earth Summit in Brazil, so when she and her husband Ryan purchased the Mud Shaver Car Wash in 2009 building an environmentally responsible business was the major focus.

"Good." "Clean." "Fun." are the operating words.

Her husband keeps all the equipment in top condition allowing her to concentrate on everything else.

The car wash features an automatic touchless LaserWash 4000 allowing quick, thorough and safe cleaning. The bay also has an undercarriage spray. Very low prices—$4 for basic, $7 for deluxe, and $8 for ultimate—keep customers coming back. The self-serve bays are even more of a bargain, starting at $2.

A super-sized bay can accommodate everything from large RVs to belly dump truck and fleet vehicles.

All the bays face south and have an uncongested drive-through layout. There is more than 10,000 square feet of pavement to provide roominess. Four vacuum and shampoo stations are easily accessible and out of the way of drive-through traffic. The vending machines are stocked with fresheners, window cleaner, towels and Armor All. Numerous payment methods are available.

The fun part comes with music in the wash bays and a chance to interact with the car wash mascot, Skippy. Skippy is an active dog. He likes to ride horseback and go four-wheeling when he is off duty.

LONGMONT — Jody and Emily Rouse have sold their Main Street Car Wash to the owners of the Breeze Thru Car Wash.

The 2,443-square-foot car wash, which the Rouses had owned since 1998, was purchased for $1.4 million by John Agnew.

The Agnew family owns three Breeze Thru washes in Colorado and another in Cheyenne, WY.

Agnew said he plans to run the new acquisition on its current system until next summer when he will upgrade the facility, using the intervening time to assess what it needs.

DOLORES — This small town has a gourmet convenience store.

Dolores Food Market caters to locals looking for faster service than the big box stores can provide and to tourists looking for "real food."

The store sells fresh produce, custom-cut meat, ready-to-eat deli meals, sandwiches made with owner-cooked roast beef, and homemade baked goods. Given advance notice the management can provide anything from 100 hand-patted ground beef patties to cooked roasts, veggie and meat trays for pickup.

Because owners Taz and Linnea Vass kept hearing from customers that, "We did not expect this store in a small town," they registered a trademark "Unexpected Gourmet."

BOULDER — Smoker Friendly has donated $100,237 to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

All 89 Smoker Friendly and Gasamat stores sold ribbons and encouraged round-ups on purchases. They also held an auction to boost the proceeds.

COLORADO SPRINGS — It was doomed to fail. Couldn't he see that?

No, he couldn't, because to disguise himself he wore a box on his head.

So even the knife he carried didn't scare the clerk. Instead of turning on the pumps so the man could get the free gasoline he demanded, the clerk shooed him away. When the would-be robber attempted to enter the store again for a second try he found the door locked.

He fled in a car presumed to be low on gasoline with a driver low on self-esteem.

CASTLE ROCK — A man stole a SUV with a four-year-old child strapped in from a convenience store, then led police on a sixty-mile, ninety-mile-an-hour chase.

Ryan Stone, 30, was convicted of eighteen charges, including attempted manslaughter and child abuse. He bragged about his exploits, according to prosecutors.

Stone was sentenced to 160 years in prison. He could be eligible for parole in 75 years.

DENVER — Convenience stores are favored vehicles for cigarette manufacturers trying to market to young people, the Colorado Department of Public Heath and Environment said in a press release.

They concentrate on those stores because statistics show seventy-five percent of teenagers visit a convenience store at least once a week.

Their strategy is to place cigarette ads at the eye level of kids—three feet from the floor or lower, and within six inches of candy.

Adolescents in African-American and low-income communities are especially targeted, state officials said.

Originally published in the December 2015 issue of the O&A Marketing News.
Copyright 2015 by KAL Publications Inc.

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