Quaker State Corporation was incorporated in 1931 in Oil City, PA. It was created with the mergence of 19 smaller companies. One of these, James B. Berry Sons Co., had begun drilling oil shortly after Edwin Drake drilled the first oil well in the Titusville, PA area in 1859.
The name "Quaker State" was first used by T. G. Phinny in 1913. He wanted to set apart the motor oil he was selling from that of the other oil companies. In 1914 the Franklin Motor Co. of Syracuse, NY chose Quaker State motor oil to be use in their cars. They had been looking for a lubricant that could withstand the high operating temperatures that the engines in their cars produced. The Franklin Motor Co. put a five gallon can of Quaker State oil under the front seat of every car that they shipped out.
As the nation got into the mechanical age, the demand for oil in transportation and industry increased. In 1936, the Standard Oil Co. of Indiana concurred to sell Quaker State oil in its service stations. Eventually, all Standard Oil stations sold Quaker State along with their own brand.
In the early 1940s Quaker State began to develop and use additives to improve the quality of its product. The military sanctioned it for use during World War II. After the war automobile manufacturers began to increase the size and horsepower of their cars. Quaker State continued to improve its oil by adding anti-wear, anti-rust, and high detergency properties to its oil. Advertisements of the day publicized it as the champagne of motor oils.
In the 1950's Quaker State began to mass market their products. Their motor oil was now available in auto parts stores and department stores. They initiated an advertising campaign with the catchphrase "Quaker State your car, to keep it running young." Also in the early 1950s they purchased McClintock Well No.1, the oldest producing oil well in the world. They would operate it a few times a year to keep the record going. The well is located a couple miles north of Oil City.
In 1964 they began to diversify with the purchase of Truck-Lite, a company that made safety lighting for the commercial trucking industry. In 1984 Quaker State was the first oil company to sell their oil in a plastic bottle. In 1985 they acquired Minit-Lube, changing the name to Q-Lube and in the process they expanded into the consumer service sector.
Herb Baum was brought into the company as CEO in 1993. He was the first person hired from outside the ranks to a high level executive position. Baum had been CEO of Campbells Soup Co.. Quaker State had been in a slump. They had dropped from number one in motor oil sales to number three. Their stock dividend was down and the stock had not split in over 20 years.
Shortly after Baum's arrival he discovered that the company was barely turning a profit. He made some changes that the local fellows were averse to doing. He fired their ad agency and cut dividends in half, from 20¢ a share to 10¢ a share. He trimmed some of the staff and sold off a couple of unnecessary holdings.
In 1995, Baum dropped the bomb on Oil City. It was announced that Quaker State was moving from the Quaker state to Dallas, TX. It was devastating to a small town in the rust belt. Pennzoil had relocated to Houston, Texas 30 years earlier from Oil City. Rumors that Quaker State would move circulated for years and the time had finally come.
On December 30, 1998 Quaker State Corporation merged with Pennzoil's oil changing business to form Pennzoil-Quaker State Company. On October 1, 2002, Shell Oil Company, an affiliate of Royal Dutch/Shell Group of companies aquired Pennzoil-Quaker State Company.
OIL CITY: The Town That Grew Up With Oil. Oil City, PA: Venango Museum of Art, Science and Industry, 1989.
Katie Fairbank. "Quaker State gearing up for future.""Reporter News" July 6, 1997. (www.texnews.com/biz97/quaker070697.html)
"Quaker State: A History of Industry Leadership" (www.quakerstate.com/pages/about/history.asp)