Buckley Oil Sets Sights on Midlothian

December 31, 2013 by Midlothian Economic Development
R.E. Dodson speaks at the RailPort site in Midlothian during the Dec. 18, 2013 ground-breaking ceremony.

Originally founded in Dallas by R.E. Buckley in 1922, Buckley Oil switched family hands in 1993 when R.E. Dodson acquired ownership and control of Buckley.

For the past 20 years, Dodson has been at the helm of Buckley and steered the company into profitable operations. In fact, the company's 2013 revenues will exceed $50 million.

Buckley currently operates two other facilities, one in Wichita Falls, Texas, and its newest one in Mineral Wells, Texas, which was opened in 2009.

Located at 1809 Rock Island Street, the headquarters sits adjacent to the Trinity River and offers a front-row seat to a picturesque panorama of the Dallas skyline.

But after a long history with Dallas, change is now on the horizon.

Planting New Roots

The bulk solvent and chemical products distributor has enjoyed tremendous growth and success, especially in the last four years. Buckley serves a wide range of customers in a variety of industries and offers 75 different kinds of solvents, chemicals and lubricants.

"We buy direct from refineries, bring it in, and put it in our bulk facility and we do a lot of packaging business from 5-gallon pails to 55-gallon drums," said Dodson. "That's the majority of our business."

Increasing business eventually dictated the need to expand operations.

"We needed additional bulk and warehouse space," said Dodson. "And Dallas is not as industrial-friendly as it once was."

Roughly 10 months ago, the search began for a new site that could accommodate Buckley's vision of growth, which would include relocating its Dallas headquarters and distribution operations.

"This plant was built in 1957 and our business has expanded to the point that we need to modernize the plant and our packaging operation," said Vice President of Operations Mark Riggs. "The new plant will be far more efficient in terms of design."

Plans call for the new facility to incorporate a state-of-the-art tank farm featuring a 420,000-gallon bulk storage facility, a 17,000-square-foot warehouse, a 3,000-square-foot packaging space, and a 5,000-square-foot headquarters office building. Arlington, Texas-based Kinley Construction will oversee construction for the 12-acre project which is slated for completion in late 2014. Design will emulate the company's Mineral Wells facility but on a larger scale.

Intent on remaining in the North Texas area, Buckley management scoured a variety of sites in North Texas and ultimately found the ideal site for the project in Midlothian, 26 miles south of Dallas.

"We were impressed by the RailPort Business Park and it fit our needs," said Dodson. "We need to be close to interstates because our major customers are within a 150-mile radius."

Dodson and Riggs were particularly pleased by their experience with the city of Midlothian.

"Everyone in Midlothian impressed us with their willingness to work with us and their open-armed policy," said Dodson. "So far, it has been a breath of fresh air to have a city willing to bring a 92-year-old business to their fine city."

"The Midlothian city staff has been willing to work with us and are highly professional people who are pro-business and see the benefit of bringing in an additional plant, jobs, and the potential for growth," said Riggs. "They have done exactly what they said they would do."

Foundation of Success

As one of North America's oldest petrochemical companies, Dodson said his company's success can be attributed to only one thing: customer service.

"Our service to our customers, as well as our empathy for our customers, is what has built Buckley over the past 92 years," said Dodson. "If our customers want to talk to a person, they can get an answer within 24 hours. We are a locally-owned business and have been since 1922. The names have changed, but there have only been two owners in 92 years."

Dodson said he was fortunate to work with the third generation of Buckleys and that he has continued to run the business exactly how the Buckley family once did.

A true testament to the company's longevity, in 2002 Buckley was named a Cornerstone Company by the Dallas Historical Society and highlighted as one of only 59 companies in Dallas that has been in business since 1922.

"That's why we left the name Buckley; because people know Buckley," said Dodson. "Now we're into the fourth generation of some of our customers. We are dealing with grandsons and great-grandsons, and have added new customers along the way, many of whom were referrals because of our service. That's the only thing that has built Buckley: our service."

Even though Buckley has been recognized multiple times as one of the 100 largest chemical distributors in North America, Dodson contends that Buckley's size is not what will drive the company's future success.

"The only way we will continue to grow is not by price — we're not the cheapest and won't be the cheapest — but by service, and empathy with our customers," said Dodson. "That's the only thing we've got to sell, and so far that's worked well. We're not trying to be the biggest; we never will be the biggest."

People Power

Another testament to Buckley's solid story is its employee retention rate.

"Buckley is a team and has been a team since 1922," said Dodson. "The names have changed, and the workers, obviously. But we've got one employee who has worked for 58 years for Buckley."

He said that the typical Buckley employee has an average tenure of 12 to 14 years, and that some have been with the company in excess of 20 years. Riggs, for example, has been with Buckley for 27 years. Robert Rice, Dodson's grandson, joined the team in 2007 and he plans to see that Buckley continues the family tradition.

"It's a team effort," said Dodson. "That's what Buckley was built on and I pray that's what Buckley continues to do."

It is this tremendous sense of corporate stability that will certainly help propel Buckley's operations into its next chapter. The company anticipates bringing 25 to 28 employees from its Dallas facility to its new Midlothian plant and positions will be filled as necessary.

"We expect most to transfer, but some may not," said Riggs.

The company boasts a stellar safety record, which Dodson and Riggs attribute to quality employees and the guidance of Linda Henry, Buckley's quality control and facility coordinator. In the coming years, Dodson estimates that the employee base could grow by 20 to 30 percent.

Looking Ahead

A man who prides himself on honesty, integrity, and working hard, Dodson is looking forward to making a positive impact on the city of Midlothian and is eager to create a reputation as a community-minded company.

"If we do what we expect to do, then when Midlothian comes out with a new city book, I hope that Buckley will have earned the right to be in that book," said Dodson. "I want us to earn that right to be respected by the future city fathers, the population, individuals, and school system."

As for the RailPort site, ground was broken on Dec. 18, 2013, and dirt is starting to fly. Dodson could not be happier.

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