Mid-South Sales Adapts to Market Changes

by Kate Knable  on Monday, May. 21, 2012 12:00 am  

Mid-South Sales has evolved from the small business that in 1945 began selling fuel, tires, batteries and other automotive and tractor accessories to farmers from a bulk oil plant in Helena.

(Click here for a list of the largest private companies in northeast Arkansas.)

The regional wholesale oil and fuel distributor, which is now headquartered in Jonesboro, has grown and has tried a variety of avenues for selling.

Over time, it has adapted to changes in the industry and to consumers' varying demands.

The company now sells gasonline, diesel and aviation fuel, as well as lubricants (hydraulic fluids, motor oils, gear lubricants and greases) to buyers in a variety of industries.

Typical of companies in the petroleum industry, its revenue increased more than 20 percent last year, to $92.4 million, which moved it from No. 72 to No. 70 on the list of Arkansas' largest private companies.

About 40 percent of Mid-South's sales are to agriculture-related businesses, meaning made directly to large-scale farmers, farm equipment dealers, chemical and fertilizer companies and feed companies; about 30 percent are to companies that use the fuel or other fluids for manufacturing processes; and about 30 percent are made to a variety of buyers such as cities, car dealers, oil-change shops, schools and trucking companies.

Mid-South is also certified by the Coast Guard to fuel barges on open water from land.
"We try to cover most of the fuels out there, for all types of transportation," said Murray Benton, company president.

The Beginning
The company's founder, M.O. Rasberry, was a multistate BFGoodrich tire salesman from Helena who got tired of long weeks of train travel away from his family.

As a result, he turned entrepreneurial. Rasberry used his experience with BFGoodrich to inform his work on the company that became Mid-South.

Prior to the ubiquity of self-serve gas stations, Mid-South opened a series of full-service stations with employees who washed cars and pumped gas for customers.

The company converted to self-serve stations in the 1970s, and finally to convenience stores, before selling that retail side of the company - 20 convenience stores and two truck stops in northeast Arkansas - in 1998.   



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