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Black gold: west Memphis plant produces automotive products for major companies.

Exxon. Castrol. Quaker State. Motorcraft. Prestone. STP.

All of those auto product lines have something in common.

All have products from Coastal Unilube Inc. of West Memphis.

Coastal Unilube manufactures and distributes a diverse line of lubricants, greases, antifreeze, automotive chemicals and car care products, some of which are sold under the trademark names of Unilube, Unipro and GRC.

A major portion of Coastal Unilube's sales, however, are to auto product companies that resell the products under their own names.

The largest independent firm of its kind in the country, Coastal Unilube markets its products through 13 company-owned distribution centers.

Coastal Unilube's 35-acre West Memphis facility is home not only to the corporate headquarters but also to the manufacturing plant where products are produced and packaged. Even the plastic bottles that hold Coastal Unilube products are produced at the plant.

The company has 250 employees at West Memphis.

Coastal Unilube uses 130 trucks, vans and tankers to distribute products to 15,000 customers. Those customers range from service stations and auto parts stores to wholesale grocers.

"We sell to just about anybody who needs lubricants," says Jack Goodhue, Coastal Unilube's president.

Goodhue is exploring new overseas markets.

The company, which has had sales of more than $100 million in each of the past three years, already ships products to Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Puerto Rico, Taiwan and Guatemala.

Once Obscure

Although it is now making a name for itself in the automotive products industry, Coastal Unilube hasn't always been so well-known.

The company originally was known as Southern Petroleum Co. and was founded in 1947 at Memphis, Tenn.

Southern Petroleum was purchased in 1976 by Belcher Oil Co. of Miami and merged with two other companies into The Belcher Co. of Tennessee Inc.

Belcher changed its name to Coastal Unilube -- Unilube already was the brand name for Southern Petroleum auto products -- after the company was purchased by the Coastal Corp. of Houston.

Coastal Unilube, in turn, purchased Payne Oil Co. of Wichita, Kan., in 1988 and Macmillan Distribution of Des Moines, Iowa, in 1990.

In 1989, Coastal Unilube dramatically increased its size with the purchase of three companies owned by the Gurley family -- the GRC Co. of West Memphis, Tenn-Penn Oil Co. of Memphis and GRC Industries of Leesburg, Fla.

The purchase tripled the size of Coastal Unilube and expanded its distribution network into the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic states.

The West Memphis plant, the company's central production facility, has 300,000 SF of warehouse and manufacturing space and 200 tanks that are used to store up to 18.5 million gallons of base stocks.

The company has four of its distribution centers and marketing offices in Florida. They are at Ft. Lauderdale, Tampa, Leesburg and Jacksonville.

The two Texas facilities are at Kilgore and Corpus Christi.

The other distribution centers are at McDonough, Ga.; Charlotte, N.C.; Perryville, Md.; Lebanon, Ind.; Des Moines; and Wichita.
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Title Annotation:Coastal Unilube Inc.
Author:Taylor, Tim
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Aug 3, 1992
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