Quick Lube History : 1995 – Quaker State Moving Headquarters To Texas

OIL CITY, Pa. (AP) _ The Quaker state is losing Quaker State to the Lone Star state.

The company that makes the nation’s second best-selling motor oil said Friday it’s relocating to Texas, leaving behind the Pennsylvania oil country, birthplace of the nation’s petroleum industry.

“A lot of us are wishing we could find a way to make them change their name,? said Louis Adelson, who has lived in Oil City for about 40 years. “Quaker State refers exclusively to Pennsylvania.?

Quaker State, founded in Oil City in 1931, said it was forced to move to the Dallas area because most of its operations are now in the Southwest.

The company recently acquired Specialty Oil Cos. of Shreveport, La., and is in the process of acquiring Slick 50, a Houston-based maker of engine treatments.

“It was a very, very, very difficult decision to make, but if we’re going to grow this company we’ve got to make a move like this,? said company spokesman Stephen Blum.

Dallas-Fort Worth airport has 12 direct daily flights to Shreveport, where the company will base technical and manufacturing operations, Blum said.

About 300 people work at the headquarters in Oil City, a hilly, rural community about 75 miles north of Pittsburgh.

Quaker State won’t be the first business with a geographic namesake divorced from reality. Others range from the Brooklyn Dodger baseball team (Los Angeles) to the Boston Chicken restaurant chain (Denver).

“I don’t know that our name should have anything to do with our mailing address,? Blum said. He noted that Pennzoil moved its headquarters from Oil City to Houston in the mid-1960s, and Texaco left Texas for White Plains, N.Y.

Quaker State hopes to choose an exact site in the Dallas area within two to three months. It plans to complete the move by early 1996.

Quaker State began in 1931 as a small marketing company selling crude oil and now employs about 5,000 people worldwide.

The company’s share of the motor oil market has grown from about 11 percent when Herb Baum became chairman in 1993 to 15.4 percent now. Pennzoil is the bestselling brand with about a 20 percent share.

For decades after Thomas Drake drilled America’s first oil well a few miles to the north in 1859, Oil City boomed as black gold gushed, turning streets to muck and men into millionaires.

Oil City has lost thousands of jobs in the oil and steel industry in the last 15 years. The area’s ties to oil are still evident in everything from the local newspaper, The Derrick, to Petroleum Street, Oil Creek and the abandoned pipes and wells in the woods. The Yellow Dog bar on Elm Street is named after the lamps used in oil fields in the 1800s.

Residents expect the departure to cause serious economic damage. “Unless they get something else along the way it’s liable to become a ghost town, like Pitthole,? a minuscule community a few miles north, said Dorothy Smith, 77, who was raised in Oil City.

Gail Welch, a Quaker State employee for 16 years, may lose her job because of the move. She said she hasn’t heard whether she’ll be offered a position in Dallas.

“I’m not angry,? she said. “I’m very disappointed that new management was brought in to Quaker State to turn the thing around, and then did this.?

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