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Sustaining steady growth.

Jonesboro's Matthews Oil Co. Prospers In Wake Of A Devastating Loss

When Russell Miller describes Linda Matthews, he uses words such as "courage" and "charisma."

It took courage to take over Matthews Oil Co., one of the largest Exxon oil and gas distributors in a four-state area, when Phillip Matthews, her husband and the company's owner, died in 1989.

It took charisma not only to maintain the company's status, but also to manage its growth at a steady pace.

Miller, Matthews Oil's general manager, says Linda Matthews is the "kind of person people like to do business with."

"I didn't want to do anything else but make the company better," says Matthews, a bookkeeper for six years prior to her husband's death.

The company always has been a family business, and Matthews was determined to keep it that way.

Matthews Oil was started as a one-man operation by Almus Matthews in 1954. Phillip Matthews moved the company from Monette to Jonesboro in 1981 when his father retired.

The company employs 114 people and has averaged 10 percent annual revenue growth. Matthews Oil now operates eight Exxon convenience stores.

Miller credits Matthews.

And Matthews credits Miller.

"When Russell came on board in '89, he steered me in the right direction," she says. "He made me make decisions."

Matthews says her employees also helped.

"They really pulled together," she says. "And I learned a lot from them."

Miller says the wholesale oil and gas business is especially challenging because of unpredictable product prices.

"You have to watch the competition and plan your purchases carefully because everything changes daily," Miller says.

Matthews Oil is implementing a program that Miller says "should revolutionize our company."

The program focuses on efficiency, service and repeat business.
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Title Annotation:Matthews Oil Co.
Author:Harper, Kim
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Jan 20, 1992
Previous Article:Solid success from solid waste.
Next Article:Building a national reputation.

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