Founded in 1954, Rebel Oil Company (ROC) is a family-owned business providing high-quality liquid energy products and lubricants across the state of Nevada, as well as California, Arizona, and Utah. With 80 trucks in its fleet, six bulk plants, four cardlocks, three warehouses, two rail sidings and one terminal in its portfolio, ROC has grown to provide terminal services, offering refined fuel and renewable biofuel products, racing fuel, D.E.F., oil, lubricants and logistics services.
The company was founded by Jack Cason, who moved from Oklahoma to Las Vegas in the early 1950s, along with his brother, Pete, and business partner, Carl Bailey. The trio opened a single Phillips 66 (P66) gas station on the Las Vegas Strip, developing a longstanding relationship, which led to the purchase of a preexisting P66 fuel terminal in 1985 to kickstart its terminal services offering. A further two bulk plants were purchased in 1989 and 1994 to accelerate expansion in the wholesale market.
The focus on wholesale growth was further supported by a decision to diversify in 2015, which saw the business sell 55 retail stores. Today, the company is celebrating its 70th anniversary having grown from humble beginnings to occupy a strong foothold in the West of the US. Jason Case, CEO of ROC and son-in-law of Chairman of the board, Dana Cason Teepe, joins us to discuss the company’s evolution and how its operations are changing in the wake of the energy transition.
“Successfully making it to 70 years in business is a huge achievement, and one that honors the legacy of Jack Cason, Pat Cason and Dana Cason Teepe,” Jason opens. “I look at this business as a huge book with many chapters, and I feel incredibly grateful to play a small part in this story. The founders were entrepreneurs, opening a handful of service stations with a vision to scale, which led to a positive relationship with P66 that we still cherish today.
“After Rebel divested the convenience store assets in 2015, the family made a strategic decision to reinvest time, capital and resources into the wholesale distribution side of the business. My wife, Christi, who represents the third generation of the family, and I were living in California at the time when ROC asked us to join the company and help guide the transition.
“I was working as a business consultant, so my wife and I almost naturally began to discuss our vision for the company. Realizing the amount of work required, we decided to take on transforming the business from one that had historically focused on consumer-facing retail stores into one dedicated to wholesale customers.
“We had to look at both the assets we had left after selling the convenience stores and our distribution footprint. So, we moved to Las Vegas and Christi entered the company at a critical moment of transition, where there would otherwise have been a gap in leadership. I, on the other hand, came onboard as the Controller to replace someone who was retiring.
“Our next step was guiding each division through an ERP transition to rebuild our technology infrastructure and enable more detailed real time reporting,” he continues. “This allowed us to analyze how the business was performing and identify areas of further improvement. We also improved a lot of our technology, accounting practices, and reporting functions to make more strategic decisions.
“However, during this process, we realized that we needed to take that effort out into the field, to our terminals, facilities and our transportation fleet. Having occupied the Controller position for around three years, I moved to the role of Vice President of Operations to oversee this process, by which point ROC had started to gain momentum as a growing wholesale business. Upon reflection, we were lucky to be able to attract talented people with excellent experience across operations, environmental regulations, health and safety, and transportation and logistics.”
Jason shares more details as to how the management team successfully identified opportunities for wholesale growth. “After selling the stores, we were left with a pipeline-connected fuel terminal in Las Vegas, some rail access in the north of Las Vegas, and a few bulk plants in southern Nevada, central Nevada, and Arizona,” he explains. “We started looking at our existing distribution footprint and our supply points, eventually identifying an opportunity in southern California (Hesperia, CA) and acquiring a plant there in 2018.
“This facility was a strategic decision in terms of geographic location, as it boasts plenty of warehouse space and storage capacity, as well as extending our distribution network into California from as far north as Bakersfield to San Diego in the south. We then continued to look at other acquisitions, as many companies had experienced a similar journey to ours but hadn’t managed to implement an effective succession plan like we had, meaning they were open to acquisition.
“Through both acquisitions and organic growth, we’ve been able to grow further into Arizona and Utah, as well as strengthen our presence in northern Nevada. We’ll continue to look at strategic acquisitions to expand distribution when opportunities are presented to us. However, we don’t want to grow too quickly as our priority is taking care of our customers and delivering exceptional service.”
As ROC has evolved, so too has the landscape in which it operates, with companies now facing the pressures of global energy transition to more sustainable fuels. “Certain markets are demanding biofuels like ethanol, biodiesel, and renewable diesel, more so than others,” Jason says. “An example is the market in California, as the state provides subsidies to bring the cost of these products down almost equal to that of traditional petroleum products.
“We’re in the process of educating customers about the benefits of these fuels, and we also made the switch to renewable diesel for our entire fleet in California around a year ago. While this has inevitably reduced our emissions, we’re currently producing reports to include specific data on the overall impact.”
Although ROC’s business strategy has evolved over its 70-year history, one thing has remained constant – its focus on family values like honesty, integrity, empowerment, and environmental stewardship. “Having started life in Las Vegas, ROC has always played an important role in the local community, particularly as it was once a focal point for employment,” Jason proposes. “The founders were committed to their people. Jack was an ethical man who lived by the principle that to lead people to go the extra mile, you must go the extra mile yourself.
“We’ve carried these family values through to today’s operations, with a focus on personal development and ambition,” he concludes. “Overall, our mission is to support families, communities, and our business partners by continuing to distribute premium petroleum and renewable products in the way that has afforded us success over the last 70 years.”