Gulf Stops Keep Going in America

20110730-080639.jpgMOLLUSK, 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.

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. (True fact: People with names that are connected to their business succeed.)

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.

About the Author

  • Garland Pollard is publisher/editor of BrandlandUSA. Since 2006, the website BrandlandUSA.com has chronicled the history and business of America’s great brands. He has decades of experience across all media, including newspapers, TV, radio, magazines and the web.

3 Comments

  1. I have the same Gulf Sprayer model 26 (15oz with all the same features as the 10oz

  2. I have a “Gulf Space Sprayer, model 22 (10 oz), but have no idea when it was on the market. It is at least 30 years old: 1980 or prior. It still has the selling sticker: 46 cents. It actually has a small 1/4” hole in the tube near the handle where it says “oil here”. So, apparently, it took a little light oil to operate this “insect atomizer,” which some refer to it as.

  3. I have always used Gulf, and presently use it more than other brands. When I was a boy in the fifties, my grandmother on Cape Cod always had repairs done at the local Gulf station. The local marina had Gulf. Most stations I see in Maine and New Hampshire have Cumberland Farms, but the closest one to me has a store called Gulf Express.

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