Steve Uphoff tells CSD he will keep the Dion’s brand and looks to grow operations in South Florida through acquisitions and building new sites. “We’re looking for more,” he said.
By John Lofstock, Editor
While the deal to acquire Dion’s Quik Mart’s by Steve Uphoff closed on Monday, it was a match 11 years in the making. The CEO of Uphoff Ventures told Convenience Store Decisions he began courting Key West, Fla.-based Dion’s in 2005 and admitted it’s a chain he has coveted for quite some time.
“There is an awful lot to like about Dion’s,” Uphoff told CSD yesterday from sunny Key West. “It is a wonderful family-owned chain that has had deep ties to South Florida for 68 years. It has a wonderful presence in the market, a great chicken program and we really wanted to be a part of it.”
As Convenience Store Decisions first reported, Dion’s Quik Marts, the family-owned South Florida convenience store chain founded by Larry and Florence Dion in 1948, was acquired by Chester, Va.-based Uphoff Ventures, in a deal that closed Monday. Terms were not disclosed by either party.
The sale includes 12 c-stores, one of which is currently under construction in Key West; Dion’s lube business; a bulk plant; wholesale fuel contracts with ExxonMobil, CITGO, Marathon and Chevron; and even Dion’s corporate offices in the Florida Keys.
Uphoff emphasized that he intends to keep the Dion’s brand and its employees in place following the transfer of ownership. Sources tell CSD that John Cary, a trusted confidant of Uphoff, will ultimately oversee Dion’s operations in Florida. Suzanne Dion Banks, the CEO of Dion Oil Co. since 2004 and the daughter of company founders Larry and Florence Dion, will stay on as an adviser to Uphoff and Cary during the during the leadership transition.
For Uphoff Ventures, it’s back to the future, albeit a little more south. Uphoff has strong ties to the convenience store industry. He founded Uppy’s Convenience Stores Inc. in 1995 and served as its chief executive until selling the 68-store chain to Mid-Atlantic Convenience Stores LLC (MACS) in 2010. The acquisition included Southside Oil, Uppy’s wholesale and distribution arm that served more than 250 independently-operated retail fuel locations in the Mid-Atlantic Region and Southern U.S. Though he retained the real estate on 42 of those stores, he did not operate any them.
Uphoff briefly served as CEO of MACS before stepping down in 2011, ceding the position to industry veteran Dan Pastor. He remains a member of the MACS Board. From 1980 to 1995, Uphoff worked for Amoco Oil Co. Today, Uphoff Ventures is a partner in Uptown Alley, which is co-owned with Trifecta Management Group. The company currently owns two 60,000 square-foot entertainment and restaurant venues in Arizona and Virginia with plans to open three more in 2016 in New York and Virginia, Uphoff said yesterday.
Uphoff told CSD that his plan is to use the Dion’s deal as a springboard to expanding operations in South Florida both through acquisitions and new-to-industry sites. “We like the real estate, we like the market and we are prepared to start expanding north out of the Florida Keys,” Uphoff said. “We hope this signals to the industry that we are in the acquisition business. We are not coming down to South Florida to run 12 stores. We’re looking for more.”