Smoker Friendly International was launched on professional dedication.
By Mary Szarmach
Family businesses aren’t unique in retail. And, if you track the roots of many family businesses, you are likely to find that those family roots are intertwined with past experiences in other industries.
Still, those roots all start from a single point of origin. For the Cigarette Store Corp., that point of origin is my Dad.
In this annual edition of Convenience Store Decisions, which explores the intricate issues that inundate the tobacco category currently, the folks from CSD gave me the go-ahead instead to write about our family business and its founder and his nearly 65-year career in oil, gas, convenience and tobacco.
A lifelong Boulder, Colo., resident, Terrence Patrick Gallagher Sr. (Terry) was born and raised on a dairy farm March 7, 1934. He continued to operate the family farm until 1962, while working full time for Oriental Refining Co., where he started in 1954. His family had four operating oil wells on their property along with a small distillation refinery, so the oil business seemed a good fit.
Oriental was sold to a firm that became Asamera Oil US Inc., a public company that had exploration, production, refining and marketing. Terry was named president of the Denver-based firm in 1974. During this time, he was very active on several boards including the National Petroleum Refiners Association and American Petroleum Refiners Association.
In 1984, Terry purchased the retail arm of Asamera Oil that consisted of over 100 retail gasoline locations. Along with that purchase came the Gasamat, trademark, which became the retail banner for the new Gallagher family business. During these years, he served on the boards of SIGMA, and the Colorado Petroleum Marketers Association. He was honored as the Oilman of the year in 1989 and received its Distinguished Service Award in 1993.
In 1991 Terry was instrumental in the creation of The Cigarette Store Corp. (TCSC) our retail tobacco store concept. The Cigarette Store Corp. was a pioneer in this new innovative retail concept and has become nationally known as Smoker Friendly. Terry is the chairman of the board of TCSC, which is wholly owned by his family. Smoker Friendly and Gasamat operate 104 stores in five states, as well as an e-commerce premium cigar business.
In 1995 Terry was instrumental in the creation of Smoker Friendly International (SFI), which was formed to hold the Smoker Friendly trademark and brands. SFI created a licensing program for retailers to be able to take advantage of the value priced Smoker Friendly tobacco family. This program is in 36 states and 800 retail locations. Terry is also the chairman of SFI.
The company employs 575 people. In 2012, we built a 20,000-square-foot headquarters north of Boulder.
Like most successful companies, TCSC has ensured it has given back to the communities that have fostered its corporate success. Not surprisingly, this effort has been led by Terry.
In addition to his business interests, my father has devoted a substantial amount of volunteer time to many civic and charitable organizations. He was a founding member of The Boulder Rural Volunteer Fire Department for three decades and has been very involved at Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish and School, serving on the parish council, school board and as athletic director.
He has also served on the National Western Stock Show Board of Directors, as well as the Boulder County Fair Board of Trustees. He has donated over $1 million to Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation over the last 10 years. He continues to support The University of Colorado where he graduated in 1955 as well as Boulder High School.
He was married to my mom for 60 years, has five children, 14 grandchildren and seven great grandchildren. Family is everything to him. The family business employs three children, one nephew and five grandchildren.
Terry continues to work and be involved daily in our business. At 84 years old and nearly 65 years in the business he has an innate energy and leadership qualities that are unsurpassed by anyone I’ve ever met. He’s met and made so many friends through his career and I’m sure he would tell you it has been a joy. I see at least another good 10 years of him breathing down our necks and checking on our work.