Thursday, April 20, 2023
Tri Star Energy Acquires Cox Oil's Little General C-Stores
Retailer purchases 52 company-operated stores, 2 dealer-operated locations
Source: CSP Daily NewsBy Greg Lindenberg, Editor
Tri Star Energy LLC has acquired Cox Oil Co. Inc., which operates stores under the Little General Convenience Stores and Maverick Quick Shop brands in Tennessee and Kentucky.
Tri Star is No. 50 on CSP's 2022 Top 202 ranking of U.S. convenience store chains by total number of company-owned retail outlets. Cox Oil is No. 128. Of the 54 convenience stores owned by Union City, Tennessee-based Cox Oil, 52 are company-operated and two are dealer-operated. Twenty-one of the stores sell fuel under the Marathon brand, 13 sell fuel under the Shell brand and 20 are unbranded.
Almost all of the stores offer one or more foodservice programs, primarily the company's proprietary Clucker's Tennessee Fried Chicken program.
Michael E. Cox founded Cox Oil in 1970. The family's roots run deep in the fuel industry, beginning with the involvement of both Cox's father and grandfather, who ran a small gas station in Mount Vernon, Illinois, shortly after his father returned from serving as a Marine in the Pacific during World War II. After Cox's own naval career ended honorably in 1970, he and his young family moved from back to Tennessee, where he found an opportunity to purchase three bankrupt gas station and convenience-store sites in Memphis. Shortly thereafter, he began growing his store count and expanding his company footprint to the 54-store chain it is today.
The company has been deeply rooted in the fresh foodservice concept. The early 1980s ushered in a strategic move by the company away from small gas stations, and the company helped pave the way for the onset of the modern convenience-store era, it said, by creating, growing and diversifying its foodservice operation while becoming a leader in the industry for onsite prepared food, with a particular focus on its fried chicken program.
"Although it was a difficult decision for Mr. Cox to decide to exit the industry he has loved for the past 53 years, all of us at the company couldn't be more pleased than to be able to turn our business over to our good friends at Tri Star Energy," said Mark McBride, president and CEO of Cox Oil. "We have known Steve Hostetter and his partners in Tri Star for decades, and it was a very easy and comfortable decision for us to agree to sell to Tri Star. We know that our stores will be in good hands with them."
Steve Hostetter, CEO of Tri Star Energy, said, "Cox Oil is a well-established company whose reputation and core values align nicely with ours. They have great locations, many in areas where we do not currently operate. Our combined companies will feature some of the best programs and operators in our region, allowing us to continue to grow and build the brand in the future."
NRC Realty & Capital Advisors LLC, Chicago, which specializes in the sale of convenience stores for major retailers and serves as an industry financial advisor in merger and acquisition transactions, served as exclusive financial advisor to Cox Oil.
Nashville, Tennessee-based Tri Star Energy is a leading convenience retailer and fuel supplier in the South. Founded in 2000, the company owns and operates Twice Daily, Sudden Service and Southern Traders convenience stores and supplies fuel to wholesale trade channels in 17 states. The company also owns premium coffee brand White Bison Coffee, including locations throughout middle Tennessee and northern Alabama.
To see a list of convenience stores and gas stations for sale, click here.