100Th Anniversary of Sinclair Oilby Senator Orrin G. Hatch
Posted on 2016-04-28
HATCH. Mr. President, today I wish to pay tribute to a well-
respected American company: the Sinclair Oil Corporation. This May
marks 100 years since Harry Ford Sinclair founded the corporation after
purchasing petroleum assets from 11 smaller companies. In its
centennial year, Sinclair Oil continues to thrive as one of the oldest
continuously operated brands in the petroleum business and the seventh
largest fuel company in the United States. Today I wish to congratulate
the company on its 100th anniversary.
Most people know Sinclair Oil for its iconic green Apatosaurus, but behind the character is a company fueled by two real American legends: Harry Ford Sinclair and Earl Holding.
Harry Ford Sinclair experienced his fair share of setbacks before becoming a successful businessman. In fact, Sinclair was just 25 years old when a speculative investment went south, and he lost his father's drugstore, but the bad investment turned out to be a blessing in disguise for the brash and brilliant young man, who was never cut out for the quiet, meticulous life of a druggist in the first place.
After losing his family's drugstore, Sinclair found work selling lumber for oil derricks. Soon, he was buying and selling small oil leases on the side, and his ``side'' business did well enough to attract investors. Sinclair's successes snowballed as he rolled small profits into bigger ventures, eventually leading to a payout in Oklahoma's Glenn Pool oil field that made him a millionaire by age 30. In 1916, he founded the Sinclair Oil and Refining Corporation. Three years later, the company had grown to four times its original size.
In the 1920s, Sinclair introduced America to the first modern service stations. These early retail gasoline outlets offered oil changes, minor mechanical repairs, and, for the first time, public restrooms that motorists could use while an attendant pumped gas into their vehicles. The convenient amenities of these service stations enabled the creation of a uniquely American experience: the long road trip.
Sinclair's success continued through tough times. During the Great Depression, the company bought up dying competitors, saving hundreds of American jobs. And during World War II, Sinclair supported the Allies with high-octane fuel, tankers, and more.
In 1948, Harry Ford Sinclair officially retired, but 28 years later, Earl Holding, another American business icon, acquired the company, leading Sinclair Oil into a new era of prosperity and growth. Earl had grown up with nothing during the Great Depression, but like Harry Sinclair, he turned a willingness to work into success. Before purchasing Sinclair Oil, Earl and his wife, Carol, built the Little America chain of hotels and gas stations. In fact, the Little America chain became Sinclair's biggest customer before the Holdings bought the oil company.
Earl was well known for his brilliance, but he was equally regarded for his steadiness and warmth. These personal qualities enabled him to make Harry Sinclair's empire somehow feel like a mom-and-pop business. No task at the company was beneath Earl, whether it was serving coffee or digging ditches. He even hosted annual conferences and parties so he could personally meet partners and employees from around the country.
Today Sinclair Oil continues to succeed under the leadership of CEO Ross Matthews. Family values hold the company together, while innovation drives it forward. As the company celebrates its centennial, the spirit created by Harry Sinclair and Earl Holding lives on, as does Dino, the familiar green dinosaur that is the beloved mascot of Sinclair Oil.
In closing, I would like to offer just a few words in memory of the company's late CEO, Earl Holding. I knew Earl personally and considered him a dear friend. He inspired his employees through genuine kindness and humble leadership. Earl was a master of commerce, but more importantly, he was a good and honorable man of uncompromising character and integrity. Although Earl left us only 3 years ago, his legacy is alive and well. Today I wish his beautiful wife and children the very best.