Self-made millionaire, Richard Johnson, who built Johnson Oil Co. and the former Bigfoot c-store chain, has died at age 76, Indystar.com reported.
Mr. Johnson founded oil distributor Johnson Oil Co. in Columbus, Ind. in 1957 with a $10,000 loan co-signed by his father. In 1981, he saw gas stations were evolving into convenience stores that sold gas, so he opened a convenience store in Nashville, Ind., using the name Bigfoot, which had been suggested at a family meeting.
“It was supposed to be fun and different and interesting,” said his son, Rick Johnson, about the Bigfoot name and monster logo.
Bigfoot grew into a chain of 225 convenience stores that sold gasoline in Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky. In 2001, Johnson sold the chain for $65.8 million to the largest Canadian c-store retailer, Alimentation Couche-Tard, which has since replaced the Bigfoot name.
Sale proceeds were put into Johnson Ventures, which let the family diversify its wealth into a number of businesses, including Indiana Limestone, AuthorHouse and Central Restaurant Products. AuthorHouse and Central Restaurant have since been sold. Rick Johnson is president of Johnson Ventures.
His father was a former president of the Indiana Oil Marketers Association and was honored as a distinguished entrepreneur in 1994 by Indiana University. The entrepreneurship program at Indiana University bears his name and was established in 1989.
Rick Johnson told Indystar.com his father “worked hard, he always had a penchant for doing a little better, and he was just a good guy.”