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J.P. Forshee at Forshee’s Chevron says what he has to offer is good old-fashioned service. His guys will check your tires for free or you can add air yourself without putting coins into the machine.
 

By: Robin Ford Wallace, Reporter

 

J.P. Forshee, who with his wife, Liz, operates Forshee’s Chevron, was the only independent operator in the county who told the Sentinel he depended on gas prices to make a living. He doesn’t see how some of the other independents survive consistently selling it at a loss, he said, or even the big corporate stations.

“You can’t stay in business losing money, I don’t care how big you are,” said Forshee.

Many other operators say they depend on in-store sales to make their profit. Forshee’s Chevron is in a slightly different situation. Forshee decided 25 years ago not to have anything to do with alcohol or lottery sales, which cuts down considerably on what he can hope to make inside.

So the Sentinel had expected him to report he made most of his living on car repairs. Forshee’s Chevron is one of the few remaining – “We’re a dinosaur,” said mechanic Bill, popping inside with an invoice – gas stations that still boast full-service automotive maintenance and repair operations.

But Forshee’s not bragging about how much he makes off that end of the business. He says he pay his mechanics well and the rest goes to insurance. “I have to have several thousand dollars a year just to have that out there, the liability,” he said.

Rather, said Forshee, he makes his margin by marking up his per-gallon price 10 or 12 or 15 cents, depending, over what he pays the distributor. “I know what I’ve got to make to stay in business,” he said.  “I’m in a mom-and-pop store.”

Forshee’s is a “Chevron jobber,” he explained, selling only Chevron gas, which he buys from an independent distributor that contracts exclusively with Chevron. “We can’t wager on the open market,” he said. “Chevron don’t own us, but we fly their flag.”

Forshee and his wife trust in the Chevron brand, they said, but for pricing they look to the distributor, which has people for that. “Gas fluctuates daily,” said Forshee.

“Sometimes twice a day,” put in Liz.

Wholesale gas prices go up and down with the market, said Forshee, a confusing business that consumers find it hard to understand. “I’ve been in this 25 years and I don’t understand it all,” he said.

But the bottom line, he said, is: “I’m not gouging nobody.”

Gas pumps run him about $15,000 a pop, he said, and then there’s maintenance. Not to mention credit card swipe fees and percentages, added his wife. So they set their prices based on reality and try to ignore what competitors charge.  

One of Forshee’s attractions over the competition used to be that he offered “real,” or non-ethanol gas. He had to give that up when that commodity was no longer available from the Chevron distributor.

But what he sees as his other unique draw is good old-fashioned service. “If you have trouble with your car, or a tire flat, or wanted your air checked, you’d come up here and we’d do it, check your air and not charge you one dime,” he said. “A lot of people do that and don’t even trade with me. I’ve got free air down there that people can get any time. They don’t have to put no 50 cents in or a dollar in.”

And that, says Forshee, has so far kept his customers pretty loyal. “Really, all around and around, they might save a little money on gas but they’re not going to get the service they get here,” he said.  


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