Pester's History is Rooted in Iowa
Jack C PesterJack C. Pester, hard-driving entrepreneur and son of Southern Iowa co-founders, Cloyd R. and Esther Pester, brought Pester Marketing Company from 17 gasoline & convenience stores to a peak number of 278 stores plus a Kansas refinery. The Pester fore-bearers who emigrated from Europe to southern Iowa in the late 1860’s couldn’t have imagined their family name (minus the “i” due to confusion by immigation officals) emblazoned on gasoline trade signs throughout the Midwest from Illinois to Colorado. These sturdy European emigrants modeled a determination and drive that charged their descendants with the character, resilience and vision to begin with one modest Skelly Oil gas station in Jefferson, Iowa and then initiate what would become a full-blown chain of stores complete with its own refinery supplying it with fuels.
Cloyd and Esther PesterCloyd and Esther Pester pioneered a business model for subsequent years in the start-up 1930”s style station In Jefferson. Cloyd, in Skelly’s trade-mark white uniform with black pin stripes, ran the station and drove the tank wagon to deliver fuel to the rural country-side. The love of family and concern for elderly parents took Cloyd and Esther to Corydon, Iowa. A sturdy cement block building in Corydon, Iowa became Station #1 on the roster of stores. They built additional stations in southern Iowa towns, Osceola (in partnership with Esther’s nephew, Jim Schaefer) and Albia, Iowa.
Cloyd died in 1955 at age 44 after a short but robust and keenly-focused life. Esther assumed leadership of the fledgling company with Jack joining the company after graduation from Drake University. Esther’s nephew, Jim Schaefer had previously joined the Company and in lock-step with Esther and Jack, the Company was expanded to 17 locations. The construction of the first canopy over the drive of a new station location in Waterloo, Iowa was an innovative and visionary accomplishment in the early 60’s. While retaining ownership of certain marketing locations, Jim Schaefer left the company to pursue independent business interests.
Jack Pester and his sister, Peggy Pester Lammers purchased controlling interest from their mother in 1966, and Jack assumed leadership of the Company. Jack piloted a small, private airplane to business headquarters in Corydon until 1968 when the headquarters was moved to Des Moines to take advantage of its central Iowa location. It was a welcome relief to land the plane at the Des Moines International Aiport vs. the fly-over the Corydon landing strip to avoid the cattle.
“PESTER – IT’S A GAS!” became a trade-mark by-line for 278 gasoline stations/convenience stores in 11 states acquired over a period of 15 years through acquisition both of multiple stores in one fell swoop and by individual purchase. Jack’s many business deals began over coffee and were sketched out on the back of a napkin. Pester Refining was formed to acquire the El Dorado, KS refinery of a major oil company thus ensuring supply to Pester Marketing Company retail outlets. Pester’s refinery was one of the last of over 200 U.S. refineries to close after a severe downturn in the U.S. refining industry.
In 1987 after reorganization, Pester leased all its marketing properties to the Coastal Corporation, and Jack Pester assumed leadership of Coastal’s world-wide refining and marketing programs. Peggy Lammers became Pester’s sole employee.
Under Jack’s direction after his retirement from Coastal, the Company, following final sale of its remaining properties to Coastal, Pester Marketing Company started over with the 7 Denver, Colorado convenience stores that remained under Pester control. Like the plucky German family that started over in the United States more than 100 years ago, Jack Pester and the Pester Company expanded yet again.
Rich Spresser joined the Company in 1994 and during the last 20 years has excelled at the day-to-day store operations, working tirelessly to foster growth in all facets of the Company. He is intensely loyal to Company goals as well as Company personnel. Now as president and CEO, Rich is responsible for the operations from company headquarters in Denver, Colorado.
In 2015 Pester Marketing was sold to World Fuel Services at which time Jack Pester and his sister Peggy Pester Lammers both retired from Pester Marketing. World Fuels ultimately sold the direct retail sites and the Pester Marketing name to a group of investors out of the San Antonio, TX in May of 2016.
Under this new ownership group Pester has continued to expand and today operates over 110 stores in 4 states all operating under the Alta Convenience store brand which has become a regionally recognizable brand. Although under new ownership and without Jack Pester, Pester Marketing has maintained it’s hard charging ways and dedication to both its employees and their customers.