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News - Article

Wednesday, April 19, 2023


Source: NRC Press Release

Chicago, IL April 19, 2023 | NRC Realty & Capital Advisors, LLC (NRC), which specializes in the sale of convenience stores for major retailers and serves as an industry financial advisor in merger and acquisition transactions, announced today that it has served as exclusive financial advisor to Cox Oil Company, Inc. and its affiliates (Company) in the sale of the Company's 54 convenience stores located in Tennessee and Kentucky to Nashville, Tennessee-based Tri Star Energy, LLC and certain others. Cox Oil Company, headquartered in Union City, Tennessee, operates stores under the "Little General Convenience Stores" and "Maverick Quick Shop" brands. Of the 54 convenience stores owned by Cox Oil Company, 52 are company-operated and two are dealer-operated. Almost all of the stores offer one or more foodservice programs, primarily the Company's proprietary "Clucker's Tennessee Fried Chicken" program. Twenty-one of the stores sell fuel under the Marathon brand, 13 sell fuel under the Shell brand and 20 are unbranded.

Cox Oil Company was founded in 1970 by Michael E. Cox, who has had a passion for the gasoline industry over the span of 53 years. The family's roots run deep in the fuel industry beginning with the involvement of both Mr. Cox's father and grandfather running a small fuel station in Mt. Vernon, Illinois shortly after his father returned from serving as a Marine in the Pacific during World War II. After Mr. Cox's own naval career ended honorably in 1970, he and his young family moved from his naval station in California back to Tennessee, where he found an opportunity to purchase three bankrupt gas station and convenience store sites in Memphis. Shortly thereafter, he began growing his store count and expanding his company footprint to the 54-store chain it is today.

The Company has been deeply rooted in the fresh food service concept for the past 35 years. The early 1980's ushered in a strategic move by the Company away from small gas stations, and the Company helped pave the way for the onset of the modern convenience store era by creating, growing and diversifying its food service operation while becoming a leader in the industry for onsite prepared food, with a particular focus on its Clucker's Tennessee Fried Chicken program.

Mark McBride, President and Chief Executive Officer of Cox Oil Company, stated: "Although it was a difficult decision for Mr. Cox to decide to exit the industry he has loved for the past 53 years, all of us at the Company couldn't be more pleased than to be able to turn our business over to our good friends at Tri Star Energy. We have known Steve Hostetter and his partners in Tri Star for decades, and it was a very easy and comfortable decision for us to agree to sell to Tri Star. We know that our stores will be in good hands with them." He added: "I cannot say enough about all of the efforts of NRC in helping us navigate the sale process. As we told Denny Ruben and his team at the beginning of this journey, we had no familiarity or experience with an M&A process such as this and needed a financial advisor that could help us understand and work through the entire process. NRC helped with the selection of outside counsel experienced in similar c-store transactions, as well as with the selection of outside service providers for real estate due diligence. In addition, Denny and his team stayed actively involved throughout the entire process and provided extremely valuable legal and business advice and recommendations about all aspects of this transaction."

Dennis Ruben, Executive Managing Director of NRC Realty & Capital Advisors, LLC, stated: "It was an extreme pleasure and honor to represent Mr. Cox, Mark McBride and Ryan Higginbotham, as well as the rest of the Cox Oil team, in bringing this transaction to a successful conclusion. Everyone at the Company was a delight to work with and was highly organized, efficient and professional. They all made our job much easier. We extend our best wishes to the Cox team and our congratulations to our good friends at Tri Star Energy."

Steve Hostetter, CEO of Tri Star Energy, LLC, stated: "Cox Oil is a well-established company whose reputation and core values align nicely with ours. They have great locations, many in areas where we do not currently operate. Our combined companies will feature some of the best programs and operators in our region, allowing us to continue to grow and build the brand in the future."

About Tri-Star Energy, LLC

Nashville, Tenn.-based Tri Star Energy is one of the South's premier convenience retailers and fuel suppliers. Founded in 2000, the company owns and operates Twice Daily, Sudden Service and Southern Traders convenience stores and supplies fuel to wholesale trade channels in 17 states. The company also owns premium coffee brand White Bison Coffee, including locations throughout Middle Tennessee and North Alabama. Tri Star Energy has been recognized as one of Nashville's Top Workplaces by The Tennessean in 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021, and was named one of the Top 25 Largest Private Companies in Nashville in 2021 by the Nashville Business Journal.

About NRC Realty & Capital Advisors, LLC

NRC provides a full array of real estate and financial advisory services to the convenience store and petroleum industries in North America. NRC's breadth of experience in the convenience store arena includes portfolio evaluation and analysis; portfolio and single site store sales and merger and acquisition advisory services. Clients include 7-Eleven, Circle K, BP, Global Partners and RaceTrac, as well as closely held and family-owned companies throughout the country. Since its inception in 1989, NRC has sold more than 15,000 petroleum-related properties.

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Contact: Evan Gladstone
Executive Managing Director
NRC Realty & Capital Advisors, LLC