Men behind pending Double Quick buy detail plans

By BRYAN DAVIS PUBLISHER,

There are some Delta towns that will never have a Walmart, a Verizon Store or even a McDonald’s.

But many of these places have a Double Quick convenience store. Some even have two. 

Over the last 37 years, Tom Gresham and Bill McPherson have built the Double Quick brand into one of the most recognizable store chains in the Mississippi Delta and eastern Arkansas.

When they open, they become staples of the community, known for their fast and friendly service, and of course, their food offerings.

Last Thursday, Gresham and McPherson confirmed that they plan to sell Double Quick Inc. to Refuel, a fast-growing South Carolina chain, with an expected closing date in the second quarter of 2020.

“While it was a bittersweet decision to sell Double Quick, we believe that Mark (Jordan), Travis (Smith) and the greater Refuel team will be great long-term stewards of the Double Quick brand and legacy that we have instilled in the local communities throughout our markets,” Gresham and McPherson said jointly in a statement last week. McPherson added, “Tom and I would like to especially thank our CFO, Barry Schuster, and Matrix Capital for their hard work and diligence in getting us to a signed purchase agreement, and we look forward to a successful closing of the transaction with Refuel.”

Like Gresham and McPherson were nearly 40 years ago, Refuel founder Mark Jordan and his Chief Administratie Officer Travis Smith were looking to grow their brand locally in South Carolina.

Their goal has been to become a 100-store company.

Smith told The E-T last week during a phone interview that Refuel, which was acquired in 2019 by Texas-based private equity group First Reserve, jumped at the Double Quick deal when they saw the company was for sale, even though most of their build and acquisition plans had previously been focused in markets in South Carolina.

“We see a lot of deals,” Smith said. “There’s a lot of action in this industry from that kind of standpoint. There’s a lot of opportunities. When we saw this one, we dove right in, and we said, ‘Hey, we’re going to hit our 100-store mark quicker than we thought, but that’s okay, because we’re going to keep growing.’”

The Double Quick deal will add 48 convenience store locations to Refuel's inventory.

Neither Smith nor Jordan had much experience in the Mississippi Delta prior to this. Smith said he had visited the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and Jordan had a close friend who went to Ole Miss, but the experience of traveling the region and visiting each Double Quick location was new for the two.

“We came out immediately and toured all the stores and just fell in love with the company,” Smith said. “The food is amazing. They have an incredible food service…Double Quicks are like a feature in the communities.”

Although Smith and Jordan are aggressively growing the Refuel brand in South Carolina, they said there are no current plans to rebrand the Double Quick stores, mainly because the brand is so strong in the region.

And the food will stay the same too.

In fact, Smith and Jordan said they are so impressed with the food, particularly the chicken at the Double Quick stores, they plan to take many of the offerings to the South Carolina Refuel stores.

“That was one of the big reasons we loved this acquisition, because we plan on taking that and bringing it to South Carolina, because frankly, their chicken is better than ours,” Smith said, with Jordan adding, “Nothing’s changing with the food or the name.”

Smith and Jordan also said they are planning to retain Double Quick’s corporate presence in Indianola. 

“We are very lean in the office, and their office complements ours,” Smith said. “They run a great company, and we’re excited to have their people on board and join with them going forward…(During an acquisition) it’s usually the corporate office level employees that might run into some roadblocks or have to go somewhere else, but that’s just not the case here, because all of their employees complement us, meaning we don’t have them… I think that’s the big reason why Tom and Bill did the deal with us, because we’re not going to come in there and cut everybody’s job and just take the stores.”

Smith said they expect to continue expanding the Double Quick brand in Mississippi and possibly more markets in Arkansas.

“They have a great new build model they have put together,” Smith said of some of Double Quick’s newer stores, “And we’d love to replicate that in the Delta and possibly more in Arkansas and maybe even other parts of Mississippi.”

Financial terms of the pending transaction were not disclosed. Smith said they expect to close on the deal in April.

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