Harper Oil Products, Inc. & Harper Properties, Inc.
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Harper Oil Products marks its beginning in the year 1955 when Bobby L. Harper leased a service station in Horse Cave, KY from the Standard Oil Company of Kentucky. Bobby ran this stations for eight years until 1963 when he had the opportunity to become a commission agent at the Standard Oil bulk plant in Horse Cave. This business consisted of two small tankwagons for delivery to small service stations, farmers, commercial accounts and home heating customers. A small amount of Standard and Mobil lubricants were also sold. Bobby drove one of the trucks and the other one was used as a spare. His wife, Janice was the company bookkeeper. Later in the sixties, Bobby hired his brother, Larry as a driver.
In 1970, Chevron which had acquired Standard Oil, offered Bobby the commission agency in Shelbyville, KY. Here the company had three tankwagon drivers and a TBA (Tires, Batteries, & Accessories) sales and delivery person. Larry, who had left the company in the late sixties to run a Standard Oil service station in Louisville, returned to the company as its bookkeeper. Bobby’s son. Steve, began working in the company part time, after school during this time, as well as working in local Chevron stations.
In 1974, Chevron offered Bobby the commission agency in Covington, KY which was located in the Chevron terminal there. So Bobby & Larry moved to Northern Kentucky while Steve was away in college. There were three tankwagon drivers here also, along with a package truck driver and warehouseman. Steve returned shortly to become the company’s TBA salesman and later the commercial/industrial salesman. In 1977, the commission agencies in Williamstown and Falmouth were closed and the territories combined with the Covington territory, which added another tankwagon driver. In 1981, what had become the Bobby L. Harper Distributing Co., Inc. was converted to a Branded Jobber by Chevron, as were all other commission agencies in the state. By 1983, as Chevron was wrapping up its program to convert all agents to branded jobbers, the company acquired bulk plants in Maysville and Carrollton, KY. The company had also acquired transport trucks during this period and began hauling transport loads to its satellite bulk plants as well as some new, larger dealers. The company now had approximately twenty employees. Due to the growth and other factors, the company built and moved into a larger facility in Florence, KY in 1988.
In 1990, Bobby Harper elected to retire after 35 years in the business. Larry and Steve took over the operation at that time. A couple of years later Chevron decided to sell all of their retail facilities in the state, and beginning in late 1992 and continuing through the next year, eleven convenience stores and service stations were acquired. It was at this time that Harper Properties was formed for the purpose of owning and managing these retail properties. It soon became apparent that Harper Properties would be heartily involved in retail operations also. The company also greatly expanded its retail dealer base at this time by executing supply contracts with dealers in the Louisville and Lexington markets. In an 18 month period ending in 1993, the company grew its sales by over 80%.
Today, Bobby L. Harper Distributing Co., Inc., which has changed its name to Harper Oil Products, Inc., continues to operate bulk plants serving 17 counties in Northern Kentucky and the adjacent Ohio and Indiana areas. Harper Properties dba HOP Shops, owns and operates a chain of convenience stores and a DQ Grill & Chill restaurant. The combined companies have about 125 employees.