In 1953, Tom and Mary Kenneally started Town Pump as a small full service gas station in Butte Montana. Town Pump operates full service unbranded gas stations located in separate markets and in separate towns. The separate market strategy allowed for greater protection from price fluctuations and price wars.
Founder, Tom Kenneally Sr. would hand his customers his wristwatch to time his oil change guaranteed to take less than 3 minutes or the oil change was free!
In 1966, Town Pump was the first gas station in Montana to offer Self-Service gasoline and the first to install bill acceptors directly into the gas pumps. With the addition of Self-Service, Town Pump was able to sell a higher volume at lower prices in order to cover their margins. Today approximately 97% of all gasoline sales in Montana are made via the Self-Service model.
The Kenneally’s saw self-service as an opportunity to be more competitive by offering something new. At the time this was a very risky undertaking as most people said it was ludicrous. Many were convinced that there would be explosions due to untrained individual handling this combustible product.
In the 1970’s, Town Pump faced its greatest challenge – the Oil Crisis of 1973. Oil prices jumped from $3 per barrel to $12.
Town Pump had to quickly and effectively manage the massive gas shortage that had impacted the entire nation. As unbranded independents, Town Pump Inc. struggled to cope with the restrictions and impositions all the major oil companies levied. The supply shortage made it a challenge to buy enough product to fill all their required tanks. This meant service hours had to be severely cut in order to make the gas last longer. Operations were hampered and growth was out of the question. Town Pump’s survival was in jeopardy.
The Turning Point
The Kenneally family traveled to Washington D.C. to appear for a hearing before the Department of Energy. They requested an allowance to import product from outside the United States when available. It was this successful petition that helped Town Pump survive this tumultuous time by importing oil from Canada using a USA Government assigned Import Quota.
The 1980’s began a decade of petroleum products that flooded the market. Town Pump quickly took this market opportunity and expanded its convenience store operations with reinvesting in its stores, adding new product lines and hiring more employees.
Town Pump began reinvesting in current locations by building new and larger convenience stores. These stores required more employees and together we began to learn a new business. Some weaker locations did not warrant further investment so we needed to close, sell or lease them to other types of businesses that were considered more viable. In these nine years we stopped selling gasoline at 14 of our pre-1980 locations.
In the 1990’s, Town Pump Inc. diversified their business holdings to include truck stops, car washes, laundromats, hotels, quick serve delis, and gaming operations. The “Whole Package” concept is part of Town Pump’s long term strategy of moving forward and never being complacent in the marketplace. By expanding goods and services across Montana – 24 hours a day and responding to their customer’s needs, Town Pump has established itself as one of Montana’s respected Industry Leaders.
Through continuous reinvestment we are able to meet our customer’s demands and complement our current business structure. By paying attention to details we have more fuel pumps with less waiting, better lighting for security and comfort, larger parking areas and driving lanes for better traffic flow and extensive inventories to offer more selection for our customer.
Today, Town Pump owns and operates over 200 gas station/convenience store, casino, hotel and car wash properties throughout Montana and Idaho.
Town Pump will continually strive to be Montana’s Best by:
- reinvesting all net income back into Montana communities
- providing the highest quality products and services to meet customer’s needs
- investing in the best technology available to protect the environment
- helping others through the Town Pump Charitable Foundation.
The world is changing and so is our Town Pump business. It is an absolute requirement from a cost standpoint that we discipline ourselves everyday so we can compete and deliver our best to our customers. This requires from each of us a relentless pursuit to be productive and efficient in everything we do. For well-run companies like our Town Pump, there is never an end to that pursuit. ~ Tom Kenneally, Founder