Lee Oil Company celebrates 30 years
A Tri-State staple of the community is celebrating its 30th anniversary.
The Lee Oil Company is one of the local businesses that has seen success decade after decade, something not many businesses anywhere are able to do for so long.
With Lee Oil Company, Lee’s Food Mart and Lee’s Travel Center, the company has established a loyal customer base in the community.
The origins of the company began on Aug. 8, 1988 with brothers Terry and Gary starting Lee’s Oil Company in Ewing, Virginia. At the time, Terry was working as a purchasing manager for a company called Cypress Coal Company where he would negotiate contracts with petroleum companies.
“That allowed me to research the oil industry, where I saw somewhat of a void in the marketplace. Some of the distributors were getting up in age. I saw the opportunity to fill that void,” said Lee.
The very first convenience store was opened in Flatwoods, Virginia. By 1990, one was opened in Tazewell. In 1998, the company purchased S.A. Mars, Jr. Inc, which allowed them to relocate their corporate office in Middlesboro.
As of today, there are 44 convenience stores owned by the company.
“Part of the growth of any oil company is finding distribution,” said Terry Lee. “It was very difficult for us to find people who had the money or expertise to open convenience stores. So, we found it necessary to develop them ourselves.”
Today, you’ll find stores throughout east Tennessee, southeast Kentucky and southwest Virginia.
“We merchandise our stores with our customers in mind,” said Lee’s Food Mart General Manager, Gayle Wilder. “We know when a customer comes in our stores they are in a hurry, so we try to make it as quick and convenient for them as possible.”
Lee’s Oil Company currently employees 366 people.
“We have been very fortunate to have many fine employees. The most important asset to any business is the quality of its employees. And without our loyal customers, we would not have been able to grow to the extent that we have,” said Terry.