HIGHTOWERS PETROLEUM CO.
What: Fuel distributor
Headquarters: 3577 Commerce Dr., Middletown (Warren County)
President and CEO: Stephen Hightower
Total 2013 sales: approximately $306 million
Middletown’s Hightowers sets sights on international expansion
By Chelsey Levingston
Oil and natural gas distributor Hightowers Petroleum Co. of Middletown could expand overseas in the year ahead, which President and Chief Executive Officer Stephen Hightower said he sees to be key to the company’s future growth strategy.
“We’re continuing to grow the business nationally and have really focused internationally for 2015 as our growth market,” Hightower said.
“It’s going to, we feel, be the game changer of how we come to market and where we will be in the marketplace over the next three to four years,” he said.
Currently, Hightowers Petroleum delivers fuel and services to Mexico and Canada. The company is seeking to become an international supplier to countries and existing company customers on other continents, he said.
Hightowers is a member of the National Petroleum Council, which advises the U.S. Secretary of Energy on national oil and natural gas issues and policies.
He’s also involved with Power Africa, an initiative started in 2013 by President Barack Obama to increase the number of people with access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa.
Last year, Hightowers joined a trade mission to Ghana and Nigeria with U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. He said his involvement in Power Africa and trade missions is helping to build relationships that could lead to business opportunities abroad.
“We’re already in Nigeria. There’s other countries within the continent of Africa like South Africa and Ghana that we’re looking at. We’re also looking at Abu Dhabi; we’re looking at the Middle East also,” Hightower said.
“This is strictly a relationship business.”
Hightowers Petroleum Co., led by President and Chief Executive Officer Stephen Hightower, has a new award to add to its list of accolades. This time, the Middletown company is being recognized for its sales and job growth, consistent delivery of quality services to corporate clients, contributions to the growth of the community, and other factors.
The former Black Enterprise Magazine Industrial/Service Company of the Year was most recently named by the nonprofit Ohio Minority Supplier Development Council as its 2014 Supplier of the Year. Hightowers Petroleum won in the category for companies with $50 million or more in annual sales.
The supplier council links Minority Business Enterprises with corporations seeking diversified supply chains in various industries, said the group’s spokesman Aaron Powell Jr. The Ohio Minority Supplier Development Council has approximately 200 corporate members. The private Ohio organization, affiliated with the National Minority Supplier Development Council, has also certified approximately 800 minority-owned businesses such as Hightowers for doing business with local corporations.
Corporate members nominate suppliers for the annual awards and a committee, consisting of company and staff representatives, selects winners from those nominations, Powell said.
“Hightowers is a significant aspect of how we’re able to tell the success of our story as an organization. It’s great not only for us to be able to honor them with an award that they’ve earned, but also to have recognition in the community of their accomplishments,” he said.
Hightowers Petroleum, incorporated in 1985, buys fuel from refineries, and then sells and distributes it. Customers include The Kroger Co., General Motors Co., AK Steel Holding Corp., State of Ohio and others.
Someone who buys a General Motors vehicle off the lot is likely to have had it fueled by Hightowers Petroleum. Kroger fuel customers in Springboro, Springfield and Troy, for example, can also trace their full gas tanks to Hightowers.
The Middletown-based energy business beat out companies of a similar size from Cleveland, Columbus, Toledo and elsewhere across the state to win the award.
“It’s always an honor to be recognized amongst your peers by your customers,” Hightower said.
Hightowers Petroleum, which leaders says is the largest minority-owned company in the Cincinnati region, is ranked the Tristate’s 34th largest company overall by Deloitte Cincinnati USA 100 based on 2013 revenues of $306 million.
Stephen Hightower also owns Hi-Mark Construction Group, a design/build general contractor specializing in commercial building and wastewater treatment projects.
Hightower’s newest business, HP Energy Co. LLC, founded in 2012, is a company that develops energy efficiency projects to help customers lower their energy costs. Offices are in California, Florida and Middletown. HP Energy also provides financing to pay for energy efficiency projects.
Altogether, the three companies have approximately 75 total full-time employees nationwide, Hightower said.