Returning home to Savannah, Georgia in 1921 after serving in World War I, Raymond M. Démére decided to go into business for himself. The business he chose was one of great promise, given America’s newfound fascination with the “gasoline buggy,” whose engines were fueled by petroleum products. Armed with only one barrel of lubricating oil, he founded “American Oil Company.” It started with just a warehouse, but soon added storage tanks, and later, company–owned filling stations around the Savannah area.
In 1933 our company became known as “Colonial Oil,” and an even greater expansion began. Envisioning opportunities for the distribution of petroleum products at the port of Savannah, Mr. Démére began construction on an independent ocean terminal and storage facility. It soon became the largest of its kind in the United States, and today our facility occupies more than 100 acres of prime Savannah River frontage.
Upon the death of Mr. Démére in 1953, Charles L. Jarrell became president, serving with distinction in that capacity and then as Chairman in 1958. Under the leadership of Robert H. Démére, the founder’s son, a retail subsidiary was formed in 1963. Originally called “Interstate Stations,” this unit later became known as Enmark Stations and now spans Georgia and the Carolina’s. RobertH. Démére became chairman in 1986, succeeded as president by his son, Robert H. Demere, Jr.
In the last decade, we have built on our prosperous past. Colonial Oil Industries, Enmark Stations, and Colonial Terminals have shown steady growth. Additionally we have expanded the company into other industries through subsidiaries: Colonial Energy; Chatham Towing Company; Georgia Kaolin Terminals; Colonial Marine Industries; Compliance Systems; Colonial Chemical Solutions, Inc. and Colonial Towing, Inc. In 2005, Colonial increased our international market presence by providing petroleum products to Puerto Rico and gasoline blend stock tankage in Europe.
From a barrel of oil to a bundle of industries, the story of the Colonial Group has been marked by impressive accomplishments and an unwavering dedication to the vision of the man who started it all. In following Raymond Démére’s example of hard work and the commitment to customers, we have furthered his greatest legacy – success.
Visit Colonial Group, Inc.’s website here: www.colonialgroupinc.com