Swallow Oil grows with Rocky Mountain market
Nov 1, 2008 12:00 PM
The Interstate-70 corridor stretching from Denver to the western side of the Rocky Mountains has become one of the fastest growing areas in Colorado. That expansion shows no sign of letting up.
Some of the best known resort areas (and scenery) in the Rocky Mountain region — including Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, and Vail — are accessible from the highway. Beyond the western range of the Rockies, I-70 cuts through Glenwood Springs and Rifle on the way west to Grand Junction.
Economic driving factors across the region include tourism, agriculture, and energy exploration and production. In fact, energy activity is booming due to high oil prices. All of this means more people and businesses are swarming to the area, and that is good news for such petroleum marketers and haulers as Swallow Oil Company.
“This area contains a vast amount of oil shale, and we are seeing renewed effort to tap that petroleum source,” says Kirk Swallow, one of the owners of Swallow Oil Co. “Geologists tell us that there is more oil in our shale than in all of Saudi Arabia. Activity in the natural gas fields in this area also has picked up.
“We can sense that we are on the edge of a tremendous new energy boom. We're selling more diesel than gasoline right now. In fact, we're selling more diesel now than in the history of our company, and we know it is because of the oilfield boom.”
The company history dates back 57 years to 1951, the year Ray Swallow (Kirk's grandfather) bought a small Colorado jobber with a single service station in Rifle. At the time, he was a salesman for Phillips 66.
Other family members joined the company in the following years. Gary (Ray's son and Kirk's father) became a fulltime employee in 1957. Kirk and his brother, Kris, grew up with the business and started driving tankwagons for Swallow Oil in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The fourth generation of the Swallow family is coming on board.
“We're confident that the outlook is good for continued family involvement in this operation,” Kirk says. “My son Nick is dispatcher and my daughter Katie is office manager. Kris' sons Ben and Cory handle maintenance and drive a bobtail. We've brought in a consultant to help us with generational succession planning.”
Swallow Oil grew steadily over the years and now serves a market that stretches east on I-70 to Vail and west to Grand Junction. The company also serves customers as far north and west as Meeker and Rangely.
Swallow Oil operates four of its own c-stores and supplies c-stores belonging to seven other dealers. The customer base also includes medium-sized commercial and industrial accounts and some agricultural accounts.
“We're adding a fifth c-store in Parachute (about 12 miles west of Rifle) that should be operational before December,” Kirk says. “Located on 2.5 acres, it's going to have plenty of room for cars and trucks. We'll have separate truck lanes for diesel. We're putting in three wash bays for cars and trucks.”
In addition to the c-stores, Swallow Oil has a fuel distribution operation. The petroleum marketer has two bulk plants — one in Rifle and the other in Eagle (about 60 miles east on I-70). The plants handle gasoline, diesel, and packaged lubricants. The Rifle bulk plant has 79,000 gallons of storage capacity, and total capacity at the Eagle facility is 64,000 gallons.
Tankage currently is above ground, but that could change in the not-too-distant future. “We plan to shift to underground storage tanks, probably starting in 2009,” Kirk says. “We believe we need to do that to comply with the (Environmental Protection Agency's) Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure program. Putting storage underground also will give us more parking space at the bulk plants.”
© 2013 Penton Media Inc.
Acceptable Use Policy blog comments powered by Disqus