Tim Freeman has sold the Roseburg gas station he purchased with his father 26 years ago to a Klamath Falls-based company called SOS Family LLC, which also owns a Mobil station in Canyonville.
Tim Freeman and his father, Butch Freeman, purchased the Garden Valley Shell station together in 1991 from Tom Graham. The Freemans owned the business, but not the land, and operated as commission dealers, meaning Shell owned the gas, and they earned a commission based on the number of gallons they sold.
About seven years later, Butch Freeman retired, and Tim Freeman bought out his dad and purchased the land on which the station sits, at 792 NW Garden Valley Blvd. in Roseburg. He switched from being a commission dealer to purchasing, owning and selling the gas.
Tim Freeman said the business was good for him and his family. He said he was able to put his brothers and his children through college, and provide work for hundreds of young men and women, some of them at their first jobs and others getting a second chance after having problems in their lives.
“It’s been a good thing, and it’s been profitable. I’ve made a fair living there,” he said.
At times, the business was tough. While Shell was a great company to work with at first, Freeman said, things got more difficult after Shell merged with Texaco, and put up a Shell station across the freeway that directly competed against him for about three years, selling gas cheaper at retail price than he could buy it wholesale. That station closed down eventually because it wasn’t profitable, Freeman said.
The next hurdle was when Shell partnered with Fred Meyer to run a station right next to his that also sold gas cheaper than he could buy it.
The gas prices at Freeman’s station were frequently about a dollar higher than those at the station next door. He said that’s because he adapted by shifting the focus of his business away from fuel sales.
“We made a business decision to sell very little gas and make money in other ways,” he said.
He rented U-Hauls and, being a mechanic by trade, worked on vehicle maintenance. A taco business also opened at the station.
“They’re the best food in town. I was skinny when they moved in,” he joked.
Freeman said he never had contracts with any governmental organization for his fuel. He did for awhile have a contract with the federal General Services Administration, to provide vehicle maintenance for federal agencies.
He said the secret to success has been that he’s a hard worker.
“If I had to get up in the middle of the night and go change a flat tire on a U-Haul truck or rescue somebody that had tried to turn around with a truck and got stuck in a ditch, I did,” he said.
During his years running the station, Freeman also served in elected office, as a Roseburg city councilor, then as a state legislator, and now as a Douglas County commissioner.
He said he had a business plan to sell the station when he was 55. He said he’s a couple of years ahead of schedule, since he turns 53 in January. He didn’t say how much he sold the station for, but said he received the price he wanted.
According to Douglas County Assessor’s Department records, SOS bought the real property for $699,000 on July 26. Freeman said SOS also bought the business and hired all his employees.
SOS is a Klamath Falls company owned by David Staub, and connected with Ed Staub and Sons. Ed Staub and Sons was founded in Alturas, California, and sells fuel in California, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada and Washington. The News-Review was unable to reach Dave Staub on Thursday to ask about the company’s plans for the station.