Trade Mart Merges With WilcoHess

News release on WilcoHess website, www.wilcousa.com:

"After working for his father-in-law at Taylor Oil Company in Winston-Salem for six years in the late 1950s, Arthur T. Williams branched off on his own and created A. T. Williams Oil Company in 1963. With no formal business training and a degree in agriculture from N. C. State University, the then 37-year-old Williams plunged into the new business and bought six full service stations.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, AT Williams enhanced his stations to include a new concept cropping up across the country -- self-serve gasoline pumps. Initially, the company offered full and self-service. When Williams discovered that about 95 percent of the gasoline dispensed was self-serve, the company converted fully to self-service. The next trend in the industry was what the industry refers to as the "C" concept, or convenience store concept, which appeared in the mid-1980s. By 1982 the small chain of stores had grown to number 67.

In the late 1980s Mr. Williams decided to try his hand at gaining some diesel volume. The first facility with "diesel bays" was built in Suffolk, VA in 1988. This was shortly followed by the company's first venture into the travel plaza arena. In the winter of 1990, Wilco #735, Raphine, VA opened its doors to the world of professional trucking. This facility offered multiple diesel bays, traditional truck company payment methods, showers and a restaurant.

The company continued to build both travel plazas and convenience stores throughout the nineties, expanding outside the Carolinas and Virginia into Georgia and Pennsylvania. By the turn of the century, the A.T. Williams Oil company had grown to 140 stores which pumped over 420 million gallons of fuel annually. The company continued to add variety to their restaurant offerings, and began franchising operations with Wendy's, Dairy Queen, Bojangles, Taco Bell, Subway.
Due to the increasing uncertainty of of fuel supply availability and the increased number of major oil company mergers, the Williams family decided it was time to partner with a major independent supplier. This would not only guarantee a steady supply of fuel at a reduced cost, but standardize the company's offering of fuel to the public.

In the Spring of 2001, the A.T. Williams Oil Company joined partners with Amerada Hess, the leading independent oil company on the eastern seaboard, in a joint venture company. WILCOHESS, LLC was born on April 1, 2001. Save for a few Exxon stores, the entire company was re-branded to sell Hess fuel by year's end. This joint venture partnership now allowed the company to be much more competitive in their fuel pricing, and also take advantage of the Hess buying power.

In the January 2004 WILCOHESS made its most bold growth move ever by acquiring 50 locations from the former Service Distributors based in Albemarle, NC. These locations were incorporated into the WILCOHESS infrastructure in January and were remodeled throughout 2004. Located from one end of North Carolina to the other, these stores greatly expand the Hess brand exposure throughout the state.

On June 1st, 2005, WILCOHESS announced a company merger with Trade Oil Company based in Greenville, NC. Trade Oil was founded in 1984 by Walter L. Williams and operated 101 convenience stores all throughout the eastern part of North Carolina. Trade Mart stores have been known for over a generation for offering fast, friendly service at a convenient location in dozens of communities.

Today, WILCOHESS is 300+ stores strong and growing. From new travel plazas to convenience stores, the Hess flag is now flying over Wilco stores in seven states. The company continues to build new facilities and reinvest in existing stores. Wilco stores have been serving the public now for 42 years, and continue to do so daily by following the basic principles on which it was founded: providing a good product at a great value. "

Stay tuned to WITN-7 News at 6:00 for more information.


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