Hightowers Petroleum Company (HPC) has a presence in every state and is currently the largest African-American-owned downstream petroleum wholesale marketer operating in the U.S. This family-owned business sells gasoline and diesel to automotive OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers), grocery chains, the steel industry, utilities and other fortune 500 companies, and it takes pride in its comprehensive service. "We deliver a load of fuel probably every five minutes, seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day," states President, Chief Executive Officer and Owner Steve Hightower. The Middletown, Ohio-based firm offers a 'Fuel Doctor' program which consists of preventative maintenance and inspection of fuel storage tanks, emergency fuel delivery in case a power grid goes down, and a service called "mobile refueling, where we actually go in at night and fill trucks and vehicles on site," continues Hightower. It also provides a popular HPC Mastercard Fleet Card that can be used for a broad range of merchandise and services at over 10,000 truck stops and 200,000 gas stations, and it sells fuel additives, but wholesale gas and diesel sales remain the foundation of everything the company does.
Coming from a highly entrepreneurial family, Hightower also engages with other businesses, is involved in several community, industry and political organizations, and is actively looking at new markets for HPC. At present, the company has offices in New York City; Washington D.C.; Baltimore; Miami; Los Angeles; and Michigan. HPC also does business in Canada, Mexico, and South Africa.
"Our client base is quite broad and spread across many market sectors, which is benefit of [selling] a commodity like petroleum, where you have various industry that utilize fuel," says Hightower. The company counts General Motors, FedEx, Kroger, Delta, Nissan, Duke Energy, and ATT as clients.
Providing fuel for automotive OEMs is one of the company's specialties. "If you look at the automotive industry, which is a very large side of our business, we do all the initial fuel for all GM and Nissan plants throughout North America, including Mexico," he notes, adding that cars right off the assembly line "get fuel that's provided by Hightowers Petroleum Company." The family has operated businesses since the 1950s when Steve's father Yudell Hightower founded Hightowers Janitorial Service. This firm grew to a couple of hundred employees at its peak. In 1979, Steve struck out on his own, founding Hi-Mark Construction Group. The company which still...