By Garland Pollard
MOLLUSK, Virginia – One of the most brilliant recent relaunches of a great American brand is the rebirth of Gulf. The company almost totally disappeared, the only remnant being the assorted consumer products branded with Gulf. Pictured here, a new Gulf station and pump in the tiny “town” of Mollusk, Virginia, located in Lancaster County on the scenic Northern Neck of Virginia.
Once one of the nation’s great oil companies, the brand since a merger with Chevron has mostly been in the Northeast, connected as a brand with the convenience store chain Cumberland Farms.
Chevron has been diligent in allowing the brand to live on. Indeed, while they almost killed it off, the use of the brand is an excellent example of how a brand can survive mergers and re-brandings, still adding value to a company’s portfolio, when a purchasing company decides that it is best not to obliterate an old brand, and instead milk it for all it is worth. In the last few years, the Gulf brand was even licensed to Old Navy.
But in January 12 of 2010, the company Gulf Oil Limited Partnership acquired all rights, title and interest to the “Gulf” brand in the U.S. 1986. Now, it’s beginning to be a company again. The Framingham, Massachusetts-based company has more than 2,500 branded gas stations, 12 proprietary oil terminals, and a network of more than 50 other supply terminals. They supply gasoline, heating oil, diesel fuel, jet fuel and kerosene through its Gulf Oil terminal network. They also have a wholesale subsidiary, Great Island Energy, that sells unbranded Gulf gas to other stations. The company is led by an appropriately named fellow, Joseph H. Petrowski.
Gulf Family of Brands
Gulf had a number of spin-off brands that carried the name when the brand was diminished. These are:
- Gulf Lite, the charcoal lighter fuel, and
- Gulf Wax, the household paraffin used for canning.
Sadly, these brands do not use the iconic Gulf design, though the orange color and nomenclature has survived. It would be a good idea to re-unite these brands.
Gulf sold a wide variety of auto products, as did most of the other oil companies. Some brands did not survive that could have, including the Gulf Travel Card, which was accepted at Holiday Inn. Back in the day, oil company brands really did have personalities, each brand with different products, gifts, uniforms and styles.
Many of the Gulf products were simply plays on the Gulf name, including Good Gulf, Gulf Supreme and Gulftane. Some of the Gulf family of brands included:
- Gulfpride was the oil brand; as far as can be found, the oil is just simply named Gulf.
- Gulf Space Sprayer was the insect atomizer brand
- Gulf No Nox was a fuel brand
- Gulflex was the oil brand
- Klear Shield was the windshield wiper fluid
Anyone have any memories of Gulf stations and the various permutations of the Gulf brand? Love to hear them below.