A Brief History
MFA Oil Company was incorporated in June 1929 by Missouri Farmers Association (MFA), and the MFA executive committee served as its first board of directors (William Hirth, J. Wiley Atkins, John Lindner, John J. Griffith, Chris Ohlendorf, C. E. Lane, and W.S. Miller).
Missouri farmers who formed the cooperative wanted to be assured of a reliable supply of quality petroleum products at a fair price. Twenty-four bulk oil plants were built during 1929-30, and the first delivery was made from the Wright City plant on October 26, 1929. The company’s corporate offices were in St. Louis until 1934, when they were moved to Columbia.
In 1945, MFA Oil was reorganized as a non-stock cooperative with two classes of owners: MFA and MFA Oil member-patrons. Each class of owners elected half the directors. This system continued until 1985, when by mutual agreement, MFA relinquished membership in MFA Oil’s board of directors. MFA Oil Company’s board then consisted of eight members, all elected by MFA Oil member-patrons. Since then, a close working relationship continues between the two cooperatives. MFA Oil Company contracts with MFA Incorporated for use of the emblem.
Governance of MFA Oil originates at meetings held annually in local plant areas. At these local meetings, members elect delegates to attend the company’s annual meeting where they elect eight board members. The board meets regularly throughout the year to represent members in formulation of company policies and operations.
Only 25 bulk oil plants were organized in the company’s first decade, but expansion into other areas came soon after. In 1943, MFA Oil purchased a small refinery in Chanute, Kansas and, in 1949, bought a refinery in Memphis, Tennessee. Both refineries were sold in 1955-56. In 1962, MFA Oil Company entered the propane business and took over the tire operations of Missouri Farmers Association. The wholesale tire operations were sold in 2009. Propane operations have been expanded, and today form one of the most important divisions of the company.
Since 1965, the company has been a part owner of National Cooperative Refinery Association (NCRA) in McPherson, Kansas, which continues to be a reliable and economical source of fuel. In 1976, MFA Oil joined with six regional cooperatives to purchase a large oil refinery in East Chicago, Indiana. The refinery closed in 1981 with the member-owners suffering extensive losses. However, the sound financial condition of the company plus successful operations thereafter allowed rapid expansion during the 1980s and 1990s.
MFA Oil Company now operates more than 100 bulk plants, more than 160 Petro-Card 24 unattended fueling stations and sells its own brand of premium lubricants.
Since making propane gas available to its customers in 1962, the business has grown to more than 100 propane plants in operation in eight states today. The company is currently ranked in the top ten of the largest propane retailers in the United States.
In 1981, the company entered the convenience store business by acquiring a store in Columbia, Missouri. The purchase of Mid-State Oil Company in 1985 added 39 more stores. Today MFA Petroleum (a wholly owned subsidiary) supplies retail fuel and merchandise at nearly 80 Break Time convenience stores. Beginning in the 1990s, MFA Petroleum Company also began offering lubrication services at Jiffy Lube franchises in central Missouri. In addition, beginning in 1998 MFA Petroleum became managing partner in a joint venture with Big O Tires, and currently operates 12 tire stores in Missouri and Arkansas.
MFA Oil is a longtime participant, along with MFA Incorporated, in the MFA Foundation. This Foundation provides greater educational opportunity through scholarships for youth in the companies’ trade territories. In 1998, the company founded the MFA Oil Foundation. The mission of our foundation is to provide support for nonprofit organizations that are working to improve communities where the company has a significant concentration of members and employees.
MFA Oil substantially increased its service station dealer base as a result of its 2013 partnership with American Petroleum Marketers, primarily a branded fuel supplier selling Cenex petroleum products. The collaboration expanded MFA Oil’s footprint westward, adding Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado and Wyoming to its trade territory and significantly increasing its annual volume due to the larger format APM dealers.