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Our History

 
  1. 1951

    Brothers Art and Ray Schmidt bought a fuel oil route in Kimberly, Wisconsin, and formed Schmidt Brothers Oil Company. Art’s wife, Gladys, took phone calls, managed delivery schedules, and kept the books from their home in Kimberly. Across town, Ray’s wife, Carol, did the posting of receivables from their home in Kaukauna. They kept the offices in their homes until 1958.

    See “How the Company Started.”

    1951
  2. 1954

    Art and Ray changed the company name to Schmidt Oil Co. when their father, Albert, joined his sons in the family business. The brothers gave up some of their stock to make Albert an equal partner. They purchased land in Combined Locks to build bulk tanks that stored oil, as well as a corporate office and the company’s first service and gas station. They hired their first employee, Gordy Hammen, who worked 41 years at the company before retiring. In later years, younger brother, Bill, purchased Albert’s third of the business.

    1954
  3. 1958

    Art and Ray seized the opportunity to purchase a truck load of Cooper Tires at a great price. With no plan or place to put them, they took a risk and bought the product, but were forced to store tires in friends’ and family members’ garages. Not long after, they created a tires and parts division, led by Ray, and built a warehouse so they could begin distribution. That business division is known today as U.S. AutoForce and is one of the largest independent tire distributors.

    1958
  4. 1961

    Bill Schmidt, who was 10 years younger than Art, joined the business full-time after he returned home from serving in the National Guard. Shortly after his homecoming, Bill started what is known today as U.S. Petroleum Equipment out of his car and went on to manage U.S. Lubricants and the truck garage.

    1961
  5. 1963

    The company’s first terminal was purchased in Two Rivers, Wisconsin.

    1963
  6. 1966

    The company was renamed U.S. Oil.

    See the story.

    1966
  7. 1969

    The Bulk Motor Oil division began.  This division is now called U.S. Lubricants.

    1969
  8. 1974

    In response to the 1973 Oil Embargo and through a series of serendipitous connections, Art and his son, Tom, travelled to Saudi Arabia to meet with King Faisal. There they expressed to the King that they could lose their business because of the embargo. Soon after they returned home, Art began calling on major oil companies in an attempt to trade fuel. Art realized there was plenty of product available if they were willing to pay the price. They bought high-priced fuel and sold it to high-volume users who needed it badly. Sales jumped 7x overnight and the company went national. The trip is viewed as the catalyst behind the arbitrage which continues to be one of the largest parts of U.S. Venture’s business.

     

    1974
  9. 1977

    U.S. Oil moved three terminal tanks in Green Bay, WI to make way for Tower Drive Bridge.

    1977
  10. 1985

    As the business continued to thrive, the brothers looked for ways to give back to the community. Art, Ray, and Bill Schmidt founded the U.S. Venture/Schmidt Family Foundation to honor the legacy of altruism and benevolence of their parents, Albert and Margaret Schmidt.

    1985
  11. 1986

    In August 1986, Bill Schmidt founded the U.S. Venture Open, a golf outing that, since its inception, has raised millions of dollars to help those in need.

    1986
  12. 1997

    Schefon
    U.S. Oil purchased a group of Mobil and bp sites, propelling our branded dealer business across Northeast Wisconsin.

    Univen Terminal
    U.S. Oil purchased terminals in Milwaukee and Madison, allowing us to do more branded business through our terminals.

  13. 2001

    bp Terminal
    U.S. Oil bought one of our first bp terminals in Green Bay positioning a new growth mindset and strong partnership that still exists today.

  14. 2005

    TransMontain
    U.S. Oil purchased one terminal from TransMontain in Chippewa Falls giving us additional pipeline space/ availability.

  15. 2007

    Pam Oil, Inc.
    Pam Oil, Inc. was a Valvoline and lubricants distributor that allowed expansion into B.E.S.T (brakes, exhaust, shocks, and tires) within the mountain states for U.S. AutoForce and U.S. Lubricants. In addition, the product lines within the new geographic locations brought us into parts – expanding our reach even further in the west.

     

     

  16. 2008

    Schierl Tire, Inc.
    The acquisition of Schierl Tire, Inc. brought the first Goodyear business to U.S. AutoForce while also expanding our larger footprint.

    Heartland Tire
    The addition of Heartland Tire became the second wholesaler of the Goodyear brand and gave U.S. AutoForce the rights to Goodyear products in Minnesota and Iowa. Today, Heartland Tire is one of U.S. AutoForce’s largest customers.

  17. 2009

    U.S.  Gain
    This year marked the beginning of our U.S. Gain brand, thanks to our investment in compressed natural gas (CNG).

    Cheboygan Terminal
    The Cheboygan Terminal was purchased from bp and continued our expansion into Michigan in addition to catapulting our barge business.

    Draeger Oil Jobbership
    This acquisition gave U.S. Oil a strong presence in northern Wisconsin with some very dedicated long-term dealers who we still work with today.

    2009
  18. 2010

    When the company was renamed U.S. Venture – we moved into our current building at 425 Better Way in Appleton, donating the old building to the Kimberly School system.

    Jacobus Citgo Jobbership
    Jacobus Citgo was added to the family of brands for U.S. Oil in 2010 and the relationship continues today. This partnership was integral to the connection we have today with CITGO.

    Trueblood Oil Jobbership
    U.S. Oil purchased dealer contracts to help get our start in the Indiana area for our branded dealers.

    Saracen Energy Partners
    The acquisition of Saracen Energy Partners augmented U.S. Oil into the trading space.

  19. 2011

    Royal Tire
    The Royal Tire acquisition increased U.S. AutoForce’s overall footprint and Tire One marketing program which is a program we’re still using today.

  20. 2012

    Waukegan Tire & Supply Inc.
    U.S. AutoForce purchased Waukegan Tire in 2012 growing our Wisconsin/Chicagoland base.

  21. 2013

    Combined Oil Jobbership
    Combined Oil was purchased by U.S. Oil in 2013 adding another branded wholesale fuel supplier and 160 convenience stores in Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky.

    Foree Tire
    U.S. AutoForce expanded into the Colorado market and acquired the rights to all brands in Colorado through the addition of Foree Tire which opened the doors to our work in the west.

    Schiebout Tire
    This purchase allowed U.S. AutoForce to take over the wholesale business, granting the rights to Bridgestone/Firestone brands within Iowa. Later, this relationship allowed us to sell Bridgestone/Firestone nationwide.

    SEE USA Jobberships
    Purchased a group of sites in the Indiana area to help us grow our footprint in that market.

  22. 2014

    Noble Terminal Acquisitions
    The Noble Terminal acquisition included six terminals (Bettendorf, Iowa; Fort Worth, Texas; Houston, Texas; Green Bay, Wisconsin; Rogers City, Michigan; Bryan, Texas) and was our first time outside of the Midwest and into Texas for U.S. Oil.

    2014
  23. 2015

    The U.S. Gain Division established with Gain® Clean Fuel brand.

    Marathon Terminal Milwaukee
    U.S. Oil purchased Terminals Nustar (Milwaukee) and Marathon (Indianapolis) allowing us to move into Indiana, ultimately helping with branded business growth.

    Quality Oil
    After acquiring Quality Oil, U.S. AutoForce was granted rights to Exxon Mobil oil brands in Chicagoland and northern Indiana.

    South Dade Automotive
    U.S. AutoForce made its first move into the smile geography (Florida and the Southeast) through the purchase of South Dade Automotive with the purchase of four new locations in Florida.

    2015
  24. 2016

    IGEN
    U.S. Venture acquired IGEN in 2016, an excise tax software designed to streamline tax filing in the motor fuel and tobacco industries, allowing us to branch into a new software.

    Premier Tire
    Through Premier Tire, U.S. AutoForce continued to scale at a rapid pace with the addition of Denver and additional market share in the west.

  25. 2017

    Art, Ray, and Bill Schmidt were inducted into the Wisconsin Business Hall of Fame.

    Wellborn Tire
    U.S. AutoForce made its first acquisition into Texas through acquiring Wellborn Tire and their five distribution centers located throughout the major metro areas.

    2017
  26. 2018

    Tire’s Warehouse, Inc.
    Tire’s Warehouse moved our business into the California, Las Vegas, and Arizona markets, largely expanding the U.S. AutoForce national footprint along with new business with Hankook, Toyo, Nexen, Yokohama, Bridgestone/Firestone, and Continental Tire/General Tire.

  27. 2019

    Albert & Margaret
    Through the addition of Albert & Margaret (named after our founder’s parents), U.S. Venture purchased its first barge in 2018, opening the doors to additional movement of products on the Great Lakes.

    Premium Oil Company
    This was U.S. Lubricants’ first venture into water-based metalworking manufacturing and expanded overall territory throughout Illinois.

    Breakthrough Fuel LLC
    Breakthrough Fuel launched us into the world of innovative transportation and supply chain strategies for the world’s leading shippers.

    West Shore Pipeline, U.S. Oil
    West Shore Pipeline joined the U.S. Oil brand in 2019 adding a 650-mile pipeline to Illinois and Wisconsin markets.

  28. 2020

    AOT Energy Americas
    U.S. Oil purchased AOT Energy America’s rack business based out of Houston, expanding operations in Texas. This purchase was part of U.S. Oil’s strategy to continue to grow as a national supplier of petroleum products and renewable fuels.

    Martin Eagle
    This acquisition allowed us to get into the commercial and municipal space – ultimately growing our Forth Worth and newly built Melissa terminal thruput gallons.

    Sassafras Acquisition in Chicago
    We purchased 47 branded contracts giving us the ability to brand bp in Chicago as well as a group of branded dealers in the Chicago area.

  29. 2021

    Chevron Fort Worth South Terminal
    The Chevron Fort Worth South Terminal was purchased in 2021 leading to U.S. Oil’s expansion in Texas.

    Maxim Petrochemical Corp
    Maxim Petrochemical Corporation was acquired in 2021 expanding the U.S. Lubricants reach in North Texas and enhanced service capabilities while also expanding metal-working capacity and expertise.

    Treadmaxx Tire Distributors, Inc.
    The acquisition of Treadmaxx Tire continued expansion into the Southeast as part of our strategy towards a larger national footprint. Major brands that were acquired were Cooper, Goodyear, Toyo, and 14 locations throughout the United States.

    Basin Lands
    Through the acquisition of Basin Lands, U.S. Venture acquired its first entry into sustainable water solutions. The company’s unique approach is rooted in its access to a differentiated deal pipeline and ability to optimize all components of its assets.

  30. 2022

    U.S. Oil built their first greenfield terminal in Melissa, TX.

    bp Blending Facility
    This acquisition provided U.S. Lubricants the opportunity to expand into the mid-major market with the scaling capabilities of a major lubricant provider while retaining our family-owned values of placing our customers first.

    Magellan Terminal Acquisition
    U.S. Oil expanded operations on the East Coast with five new locations in South Carolina and Alabama.

    Max Finkelstein LLC, U.S. AutoForce
    U.S. AutoForce added Max Finkelstein to the family of brands catapulting our expansion into the Northeast while also acquiring major brands such as Goodyear, BFS, Pirelli, Cooper Tire, and more. This acquisition grew U.S. AutoForce into a national distributor and strategic partner throughout the U.S.

    2022
  31. 2023

    U.S. Petroleum Equipment was sold.

    U.S. Energy
    U.S. Oil and U.S. Gain combined to form U.S. Energy™.

    Pacific Tire Distributors
    U.S. AutoForce acquired Pacific Tire Distributors in Portland, Oregon adding four locations in the Pacific Northwest. With this acquisition, U.S. AutoForce operates 68 distribution centers servicing 47 states.

  32. 2024

    Eric Kessenich becomes U.S. Venture CEO. John Schmidt retires as CEO, transitioning to Chairman of the Board

    Max Finkelstein
    Max Finkelstein transitions to U.S. AutoForce brand.

    2024
  • Listen to the conversations about U.S. Venture’s early days and some of our first team members.

  • Meet Ray Zuelke & Ray Dietzen, two of the company’s very first team members and entrepreneurs.

  • The company’s first terminal is purchased in Two Rivers, Wisconsin in 1956 paving the way for the future.

  • Learn more about the history of U.S. Oil and how the company transformed in those early years.

  • This infamous Saudi Arabia trip was the catalyst behind the company’s enormous growth in the 1970’s.

  • Learn more about how U.S. Oil used strategic foresight to move three terminal tanks providing a much more cost-effective solution for all.