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Company History

  1. 1951

    Brothers Art and Ray Schmidt bought a fuel oil route in Kimberly, Wisconsin, and formed Schmidt Brothers Oil Company. They turned the front of Art’s family home into the company’s first office where Art’s wife, Gladys, would take phone calls, manage delivery schedules and keep the books. Across town, Ray’s wife, Carol, did the posting of receivables from their home.

  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 store 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, would purchase Albert’s third of the business.

  3. 1958

    A few years later, Art and Ray were presented the opportunity to purchase a truck full of Cooper Tires at a great price. With no plan or a 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 with 21 warehouses in 18 states.

  4. 1961

    Bill Schmidt, who is 10 years younger than Art, joined the business full-time in 1961 when he returned home from serving one year 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.

  5. 1963

    First terminal is purchased in Wisconsin.

  6. 1966

    Company is renamed U.S. Oil.

  7. 1969

    Bulk motor oil begins — now named U.S. Lubricants.

  8. 1974

    Saudi Arabia cut off oil exports to the United States in retaliation of our country’s military support to Israel during the Arab-Israeli war in what later became known as the 1973 Oil Embargo. Art and his son, Tom, recognized that the business was in jeopardy without supply, so they took matters into their own hands. In 1974, after making a series of serendipitous connections, Tom and Art travelled to Saudi Arabia to meet with King Faisal. The men expressed to the King that they could lose their business, but they weren’t sure what would ever come of it, nor did they ever find out, because King Faisal was assassinated by his nephew a few weeks later. Soon after they arrived home, Art began calling on major oil companies in an attempt to trade fuel. They 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 what is now the largest part of U.S. Oil’s business today: arbitrage.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 2010

    Renamed U.S. Venture, Inc.

  12. 2015

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

  13. 2016

    IGEN, a tax filing, reporting and data reconciliation software company is acquired by U.S. Venture

  14. 2017

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

  15. 2018

    TIRE’s Warehouse is acquired by U.S. Venture.

  16. 2019

    U.S. Venture moves to full ownership of transportation energy and supply chain management company Breakthrough.

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