Wallover Today

Bldg Ext(lr)Over the past year, we have tracked the history of Wallover Oil Company from its beginnings in the Pennsylvania oil fields in 1863 through the rise of the pottery industry in East Liverpool, Ohio, through two World Wars and the Great Depression, and on through the 20th and early 21st centuries. Over the course of our company’s history, Wallover has certainly seen its ups and downs. In fact, from nearly shuttering our company completely, we came back and in a relatively short period of time had regained all of the ground we had lost during the 1930s and 1940s.

Where is Wallover today after that long journey? We are very fortunate to say that Wallover is stronger than it has ever been, and the company simply continues to grow. Today, Wallover products are used in numerous industries including automotive, steel, aerosopace, and more. Wallover now benefits from an extensive sales force and thanks to the recent acquisition of Commonwealth Oil in Harrow, Ontario, Wallover now can claim a growing presence in Canada as well.

Of course, Wallover would not have been able to make it through all of the storms in the company’s history without our customers. Any company is only as good as its customers, and we certainly understand that here.

At Wallover we are looking forward to continuing growth and success moving into 2014. We are looking forward to continuing that journey with you! Thank you for all of your many years of support.

Wallover Oil Acquires Commonwealth Oil

Screen Shot 2013-12-09 at 10.14.21 AMLast week we mentioned that over the last few years, Wallover has not just been healthy, it actually has been expanding. One key part of that process was the acquisition in late 2011 of Commonwealth Oil, headquartered in Harrow, Ontario, Canada.

There were a couple of key reasons behind the acquisition. First, Commonwealth gives Wallover a strong foothold in Canada, which is key for expanding Wallover’s presence there. Commonwealth Oil had also made substantial inroads into the metalworking fluid market, most notably in the EDM and tubing forming segments. These areas of expertise enhance Wallover’s own offerings.

Although Commonwealth is only 35 years old, the brand has become well-known in Canada. Wallover has let the company continue to function under the same name over the last two years so as not to undo that powerful brand recognition. Working with Wallover has also afforded Commonwealth more marketing support, which is beneficial to both companies.

At the time of the acquisition, Eric Kielts, President of Wallover, noted, “The well-respected Commonwealth brand and the Canadian market are important to our plans moving forward. We intend to continue to invest in both.”

The acquisition of Commonwealth Oil paralleled increases in the Wallover sales force as well. As Wallover continues to move into the future, it seems clear that the company, as it has throughout its long history, will continue to grow and to flourish, even as external forces like the economy and global politics create obstacles that must be overcome.

Next week, we will bring you up to speed on where Wallover Oil is today. Stay tuned!

Hub Marquis Retires

G.Marquis002On September 30, 2010, Hub Marquis, who had been president of Wallover for over twenty years, sent out the following memo:

It is my extreme pleasure to announce officially that as of January 1, 2011, Eric Kielts will be taking over as President of Wallover Oil Company. I am making the announcement now as we wanted to inform the employees so that you have the official announcement first before it is announced to our industry. As of January 1, 2011, I will remain as CEO and Chairman of the Board until further notice. Thank you for all your support over the last 23 years as I hope you will equally support Eric as he takes on his new duties.

Hub Marquis would remain CEO of Wallover until June 30, 2012, at which time he retired.

During Hub’s time as President, Wallover Oil grew and evolved from a small family-owned company barely clinging to life to a thriving and growing company. As we mentioned earlier in the Wallover story, when Hub Marquis took the reigns as President of Wallover, he had three objectives. He wanted to increase the sales force, increase lab support, and hire a CFO. By the time Hub officially retired from Wallover in 2012, all of those goals had not just been reached – they had been exceeded. Indeed, the CFO that Hub hired -Dennis Switalski – is still on the job today. Eric Kielts, who worked his way up through the lab, is now President of Wallover. And Hub’s son, Kevin Marquis, is head of an ever-growing sales force.

Next week we will discuss Wallover’s expansion through a key acquisition and how that expansion is proof that Wallover is squarely on a path to continuing growth and prosperity. Stay tuned!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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If you have been reading our story throughout this year as we celebrate our 150th Anniversary, you know that we certainly have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. Thank you for all of your support. All of us at Wallover Oil wish you a happy Thanksgiving!

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The Oil Industry in the early 21st century

536531897_ae65676db0_mThe story of Wallover has, by necessity, paralleled and followed the story of the oil industry in the United States and then, in the 20th century, the oil industry on a global scale. Wallover was founded  just as the oil industry began to boom in the United States. Its product offerings, beginning with oil for lighting river lighthouses and proceeding to oils for the pottery industry and then the steel industry, have been impacted by the health of the oil industry from the start. Throughout its history, Wallover has skated along the edges of history to maintain its autonomy. It was not purchased by John Rockefeller even while he was purchasing almost every oil company in Pennsylvania in the late 19th century. Wallover did not disappear during the Great Depression (although it almost did). Wallover has survived two world wars, the war in Vietnam, the Persian Gulf War, and the “War on Terror” in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In so far as the oil industry has been concerned in the 21st century, Wallover has not had to face extraordinary challenges. It has been a very strange last few years for the oil industry because while pricing has increased, the cost to actually produce oil has not increased. That has meant one thing – significant profit for oil companies.

The primary reason that oil prices have generally been on the incline traces, of course, to international turmoil, particularly between the United States and countries in the Middle East like Iraq and Iran. In 2003, the United States invaded Iraq, and the price of oil increased. In 2005, the continuing war in Iraq together with the tragic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina brought oil prices to an all-time high. Since that time, oil prices have been on a roller coaster ride, increasing with tensions increasing in Egypt and Turkey, then falling back, then rising again with increased tensions in the Middle East, and falling as the government contemplated releasing the ban on domestic oil drilling.

In the last year or so, the oil industry has seen an increasing challenge domestically from natural gas production, a result of the controversial work of fracking. It is difficult to tell how this will affect the oil industry in the long run, but it is certainly worth watching.

As the oil industry has fluctuated up and down over the last few years, Wallover Oil has continued to grow and expand steadily. We will have more of that story in the weeks to come, so stay tuned!

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The Auto and Steel Industries, Wallover, and the early 21st Century

It is difficult to talk about the turn of the century (from the 20th to the 21st) without talking about the tragic day of 9/11. It is hard to remember that one of the primary news stories in 2001 before September 11 was an increasingly deep recession, which economists began marking in March of that year. The main problem was that the big 3 auto makers were experiencing a significant decrease in sales and high numbers of layoffs. The steel industry was also already struggling in the early part of 2001 as evidenced  by the closure of 44 steel companies, including GST Steel in Kansas City.

After 9/11, the market was closed for four days, and most economists suggest that the economy did not really come out of the recession until November of 2001. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (called “The War on Terror”) increased the need for defense expenditures, and that helped to jumpstart the economy to a small extent.

Through this difficult time, as was the case throughout Wallover’s history, Wallover continued to expand its product offerings. Although the automotive and steel industries were suffering, Wallover continued to develop a broad series of products that were utilized by both industries, including gear oils, hydrating oils, rust preventives, and more. Wallover’s expanded lab department also began to enhance its capabilities in testing and customizing products for customers.

Next week we will talk about another very important industry sector for Wallover – the oil industry. Even more than the automobile and steel industries, the oil industry was deeply affected by the tensions in Iraq and throughout the Middle East. Stay tuned!

The Selling of EC Labs

2610807053_7ac56c504c_mWhen Wallover initially purchased EC Labs, the feeling was that Wallover was investing in the company’s future. With an in-house lab dedicated to environmental testing, Wallover could test its recycled oil products effectively and efficiently. However, as the years moved on, it became clear that Wallover’s future was not going to rest on “oil laundering.” Companies were developing that could dedicate more manpower and more plant space to the recycling process. Environmental regulations meant that more and more companies were demanding virgin oil products, and the companies that could produce recycled oil products on a large scale were able to undersell Wallover.

It soon became apparent that EC Labs was no longer as essential to Wallover as it had once seemed. Wallover was moving in different directions, customizing products for the automobile industry, the rapidly growing aerospace industry, and more. Emphasis continued to be on growing the sales and lab teams within the company. In the year 2000, Hub Marquis, then president of Wallover, decided it was time to sell EC Labs.

On August 1, 2000, Hub announced that Environmental Control Laboratories had been sold to Tri-State Laboratories of Youngstown. E.C. Labs was to remain in Strongsville (Wallover’s headquarters) but it would function as a division of Tri-State Laboratories.

At the time, Hub noted that it was sad to give up this portion of Wallover’s business. However, it was believed, ultimately, that the sale of the company would benefit the employees of E.C. Labs as well as Wallover as a company.

The selling of EC Labs brought to an official end Wallover’s efforts to produce and sell recycled oil. Although the initial efforts started by Zack Wallover and Ted Mengel in the sixties had gained notoriety for the company, a process for making the production of the product profitable was never really pinpointed. As the years moved on, Wallover Oil found plenty of other areas on which to focus instead.

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Kevin Marquis Joins Wallover

K. MarquisOn February 24, 1997, Kevin Marquis, son of the then president George “Hub” Marquis, joined Wallover Oil. Kevin began with the company in a sales position that covered areas west of I-71 and north of Rt. 224 in Northeast Ohio.

Kevin graduated from Westminster College in 1996 and went to work for Safety-Kleen (Michigan) before joining the company. At Safety-Kleen, Kevin was responsible for sales and service, so the experience clearly helped him prepare for his new job at Wallover. Kevin also earned an MBA from Indiana Wesleyan.

For those of you who work with Wallover now, you will easily recognize Kevin’s name. Kevin is still with the company and was recently named Director of Sales. In that position, Kevin oversees 13 regional sales managers and all of the administrative staff tied to those sales managers. Kevin’s dedication commitment clearly embodies the type of business Wallover has been since 1863.

Kevin was an important addition to the Wallover team. Together with diversifying business, strengthening the lab team, and bringing in a CFO, adding Kevin to the sales team completed the three goals that Hub Marquis had set when he first became president of the company. The sales team was now strong and growing, enabling the company to do the same.

Stay tuned, because next week the story of Wallover will move into the year 2000!

The Auto Industry in the 1990s

5530463982_892d44474b_mLast week we talked about the steel industry in the 1990s. Steel had been an important industry for Wallover since the 1950s when Zack Wallover established his relationship with Crucible Steel. Over the years, Wallover had also begun to work with the automotive industry, at first selling recycled oil to that industry and then eventually supplying customized oil for the manufacturing process.

The auto industry domestically has had quite the roller coaster ride over the last few decades. If you asked an expert in 1989 how the industry would fare in the 1990s, the answer would have been very glum. In fact, this article from Business Review shows that the 90s was being forecast as a down decade for the auto industry. There were plenty of reasons to be pessimistic. The 80s had begun with back-to-back recessions, which certainly had not helped any industry. Increased competition from abroad also put a lot of stress on the Big Three – GM, Ford, and Chrysler.

When the 1990s began with yet another recession, it seemed like the negative forecasts were going to be proven true. However, something happened in the mid-90s that changed the US auto industry for the remainder of the decade. That change was the development of the first Sports Utility Vehicle, or SUV. Lower oil prices after the Persian Gulf War made it easier for Americans to rationalize purchasing these heavy vehicles. With more power and more seating room for families, SUVs began to sell like wildfire. Pick-up trucks and minivans also became popular.

While there was some international competition (Toyota offered its 4Runner, Land Cruiser, and Tacoma while Nissan exported its Pathfinder and Frontier), the big three dominated the automobile industry by 2000. As this 2012 Forbes article reminded readers, in 1998 the Big Three owned 70% of the domestic auto industry. GM had increased its share of the pie to 29%. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in 1999 that productivity had increased steadily over the decade domestically as well.

Although international competition continued to increase as the world crept closer to Y2K, the US auto industry was healthy through most of the 1990s. Today, while the auto industry is recovering from the Great Recession, comparisons are made to the hay day years of the 1990s to see how much progress is truly being made.

The story continues next week, so stay tuned!

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The Steel Industry in the 1990s

6530770725_6bb0a7f63d_mThroughout Wallover’s history, as in the history of most companies, the fate of the company depended upon the fate of the industries in which its customers worked. When the company first moved to East Liverpool, Wallover’s fate was tightly tied to that city’s pottery industry. As the steel industry began to gain momentum in the 50s and 60s, Wallover’s fate became entwined with that industry.

By the 1990s, Wallover was touching more industries than ever, but steel remained one of the most important focuses for the company. Unfortunately, the woes of the steel industry that had begun in the 1970s did not really taper off during the 1990s. In fact, in 2001, an interesting article in The Economist summed up many of the problems that by that point had been plaguing the steel industry for three decades. The article notes,

During the 1990s, productivity in Europe, America and Japan rose by 50% to an output of almost 600 tonnes per man-year. Over the same period, even though world GDP rose by nearly 40%, overall production scarcely increased. Big job losses, and accompanying political and trade tensions, were inevitable. Companies also had to cope with persistent over-capacity. For 30 years capacity has exceeded production by around 20%. That has caused long-term downward pressure on prices and guaranteed that the industry always plunges into operating losses whenever economic conditions deteriorate.

In April of 2003, a publication Economic and Political Weekly published an article titled “Steel Industry in Turmoil: Structural Crisis of 1990s” (a preview of the article is available here).

There are many issues that have hindered the growth of the steel industry over the years, many of which we have already discussed. A rocky global economy, increased international competition, and the rise and fall of oil prices over the years all have impacted the steel industry dramatically. While steel is employing more people in developing countries like Indian and Brazil, in countries where steel was once the leading industry, like in Britain and the US, the industry continues to suffer.

Wallover Oil still works closely with the steel industry, but it is not hard to see how the cities that once relied on steel, like Youngstown, have been hit hard in the wake of the industry’s decline. Part of the success of Wallover has been its ability over the years to allow for innovation in creating new products and its openness to service a diversity of industries. While steel remains an important focus for Wallover, it is no longer the representative of all eggs in the Wallover basket.

In the weeks to come we will talk about other industries in which Wallover became involved during the 1990s and how those industries’ fates impact Wallover’s own. Stay tuned!

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