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Herndon Oil Corporation

Herndon Oil Corporation's beginnings can be traced to the late 1950's when brothers C.S. Herndon and A.W. Herndon, both owners of small mom and pop grocery stores, decided to supply their own stores with petroleum products rather than purchase them from local petroleum supplier C.C. Murphy. This move allowed the brothers to lower the cost of those products, which consisted mainly of gasoline, diesel fuel, kerosene and motor oil. They began with a pickup truck and placed metal barrels in the rear of it to haul their products. Soon, other mom and pop owners approached them about supplying their locations. Local farmers soon followed and Herndon Oil Company was formed with the brothers being equal partners. They established an office in a service station building which was shared with Roy McKnight, who operated the service station.

The pickup truck was replaced with a used tanker transporter, and as sales increased, so did the geographical area from which the company drew its customers. As the demand for their petroleum products grew, the brothers decided the best move was to divide the business. In 1966, Herndon Oil Company became C.S. Herndon Oil Company and A.W. Herndon Oil Company. C.S. Herndon relocated to his home in the Union community five miles south of Abbeville. A.W. Herndon retained the office in Abbeville which continues to be home for A.W. Herndon Oil to this day. After working out of his residence for a while, C.S. Herndon built a new two office block building directly across Hwy 95 from his residence. In 1970, C.S. Herndon's son, David, joined him in the business and the company's name was changed to Herndon and Herndon Oil Company with father and son as partners.

In the early 1970's, the convenience store, a new concept in the marketing of petroleum products was introduced to the public. The convenience store combined the inside sales of snacks, beverages, tobacco and other impulse items with the sales of gasoline outside. Although similar to the old mom and pop operation, the convenience store distinguished itself by selecting high traffic locations, usually corners, and by relying on retail customers to fuel their own cars. This new retail fuel marketing concept was known as "self service," which allowed the store owner to market fuel for a lower price because it eliminated the need for labor to fuel the cars, as was the case with the conventional gasoline station.

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 About Herndon Oil Corporation  Back To Top

The pickup truck was replaced with a used tanker transporter, and as sales increased, so did the geographical area from which the company drew its customers. As the demand for their petroleum products grew, the brothers decided the best move was to divide the business. In 1966, Herndon Oil Company became C.S. Herndon Oil Company and A.W. Herndon Oil Company. C.S. Herndon relocated to his home in the Union community five miles south of Abbeville. A.W. Herndon retained the office in Abbeville which continues to be home for A.W. Herndon Oil to this day. After working out of his residence for a while, C.S. Herndon built a new two office block building directly across Hwy 95 from his residence. In 1970, C.S. Herndon's son, David, joined him in the business and the company's name was changed to Herndon and Herndon Oil Company with father and son as partners.

In the early 1970's, the convenience store, a new concept in the marketing of petroleum products was introduced to the public. The convenience store combined the inside sales of snacks, beverages, tobacco and other impulse items with the sales of gasoline outside. Although similar to the old mom and pop operation, the convenience store distinguished itself by selecting high traffic locations, usually corners, and by relying on retail customers to fuel their own cars. This new retail fuel marketing concept was known as "self service," which allowed the store owner to market fuel for a lower price because it eliminated the need for labor to fuel the cars, as was the case with the conventional gasoline station.

C.S. and David Herndon quickly realized that convenience stores were the wave of the future. One of their first attempts at the convenience store business involved a remodeled service station in Marianna, Florida. The two adjoining service bays were gutted and replaced with a convenience store. The outside gasoline pumps were outfitted with equipment that allowed the store operator to authorize and monitor the pumps from inside the store. In 1973, the name of the company was changed to Herndon Oil Corporation with C.S. Herndon, his wife Willie Vann Herndon and C. David Herndon as stockholders. The company then hired a gentleman formerly from Southland Corporation, owner of Seven Eleven Convenience Stores, to head the convenience store division of the business.

In May 1980 Pate Weems joined the business. That move had far-reaching effects as he played a major role in the operation and growth of the business. He served as President and Chief Operations Officer until his retirement in 2012, guiding the company to unprecedented growth and earnings. Mike Martin, who joined the company in 1982 as Supervisor/Auditor, then progressed through the ranks of management over the years, assumed the role of President in February, 2012. Jane Steele, who is the company's comptroller and office manager, holds the title of Secretary of the corporation. She's been with Herndon Oil since September 1991.

The company continued to grow its convenience store division through new construction and acquisitions while divesting itself of the wholesale marketing business that sustained it in the beginning. In February 1985, Herndon Oil Corporation made the most important move of its existence when it purchased the assets and territory marketing rights of Hayes Oil Company, a well-respected Shell Oil petroleum marketer based in Dothan, Alabama. It was the company's first association with a major branded gasoline supplier and proved to be a great fit. Herndon Oil spent the next several years expanding, first in the panhandle of Florida and then westward to the Mobile, Alabama market area and later to Mississippi and Louisiana. By 2002, Herndon Oil Corporation marketed gasoline through almost one hundred outlets in five states with 75% of them being operated by approximately one thousand associates employed by Herndon. The company became one of Shell Oil's top customers in the country. In 1994, Herndon Oil became one of the first c-store chains to co-brand a location with Subway. That association resulted in the ownership of 8 Subway franchises in 3 states over the years. Following that trend, Herndon Oil also became a franchisee for Checkers, the leader in double drive-thru restaurants. The company currently owns 5 Checkers locations in Southeast Alabama, and has achieved many awards and acknowledgements for their operations and sales. In May 1995, C.S. Herndon, the company's founder, passed away and his son, David, became sole stockholder of Herndon Oil Corporation.

In October of 2005, Herndon Oil Corporation relocated its headquarters to the former Bank South building on Court Square in Abbeville after an extensive remodel. The lobby contains display cases filled with awards that Herndon Oil has received from Shell Oil, recognizing Herndon in the areas of appearance, customer service, community service and sales. Additionally, Herndon has received many awards from various charities over the years. Herndon Oil is particularly proud to have represented the March of Dimes for fifteen years with its title sponsorship of the Herndon Shell March of Dimes Golf Classic and March of Dimes Walk For Babies, resulting in more than one million dollars raised for the March of Dimes. Additionally, Herndon Oil continues to be heavily involved with the Southeast Alabama Child Advocacy Center which assists the victims of extreme physical and sexual abuse.

The office building in Union Community that served the company so well for almost forty years is currently used for storage. For the past few years, the company has consolidated by taking advantage of high real estate values and divesting itself of certain properties. It continues to operate out of its new headquarters in Abbeville.