Quaker State® History

Quaker State History

A century and a half ago, Quaker State® products kept steam engines puffing and wagon wheels turning. Today, our products are used by auto shops and everyday people like you who want real, durable oil in their motors. Read our history and learn about how Quaker State's been keeping all kinds of parts moving for over a hundred and fifty years.

The company's rich history began in 1859 with a small marketing company that produced petroleum products to lubricate steam engines, machinery and wagons. In 1913, Chicago entrepreneur and stockbroker Charles Pape brought together 19 small oil companies in Oil City, Penn., to create a new corporation, Quaker State Oil Refining Corporation.

As the nation entered the mechanical age, oil became the lifeblood of industry and transportation. Companies such as Quaker State found consumers clamoring for its products. The invention of the "horseless carriage" resulted in specific product innovations required by the new internal combustion engines.

Automobile makers quickly discovered that engine efficiency increased with high operating temperatures, yet no oil on the market could handle the heat. The Franklin Automobile Company was desperate for a quality motor oil for its cars. Quaker State sent the company samples of its new, high-quality oil and it proved so successful that from 1914 on, every Franklin leaving the factory was fitted with a custom five-quart can of Quaker State motor oil under the front seat.

With a focus of staying ahead of industrial developments and continually making product improvements, Quaker State set the stage for rapid growth. In 1936, the Standard Oil Company (now Exxon) became the exclusive Quaker State sales agency in the Midwest. Soon after, all Standard Oil stations across the nation exclusively offered Quaker State motor oil. World War II caused the demand for Quaker State products to reach new heights. The military favored the Quaker State brand because the company had already begun to develop and use additives to make improved and special blends that provided superior performance.

In 1940 and 1941, the company introduced Stabilized Quaker State Motor Oil and Quaker State HD High Detergency Oil. Advertisements to consumers touted Quaker State as the "the champagne of motor oils."

After the war, automakers began to increase horsepower and the size of cars. Keeping pace with these developments, Quaker State products included a combination of anti-wear, anti-rust, anti-corrosive and high detergency properties. During the mid-'50s, Quaker State began marketing its products through the burgeoning mass merchandise retailers. Supporting this broad new base of distribution, the advertising slogan "Quaker State your car" made the brand a household name.

1984, 1985, 1992
Innovation and growth continued throughout the '70s and '80s. In 1984, Quaker State became the first motor oil sold in convenient, economical plastic bottles. Quaker State expanded into the consumer service sector in 1985 when it bought Minit-Lube Inc., which later became Q-Lube, but closed after the Pennzoil-Quaker State merger. The bottles continued to evolve, with the introduction of environmentally conscious bottles that incorporated 20 percent recycled plastic and fully recyclable in-mold plastic labels in 1992. Also, the color of the new bottles changed from traditional white to green.

A new Quaker State was born in June 1993 when Herbert M. Baum assumed the positions of Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.

The impact of Baum's vision for the company became readily visible with a new logo, exciting promotions, new products, additional company acquisitions and an increased dedication to complete customer service. Among the important acquisitions was Specialty Oil Companies of Shreveport, LA. This firm's broad product line included a wide range of industrial lubricants and a strong private label manufacturing capability. In addition, its distribution system greatly enhanced the overall Quaker State system. Specialty Environmental Services greatly enhanced Quaker State's environmentally conscious capabilities, particularly in the field of waste oil collection and recycling. These services not only assisted Quick Lube operations, they also enabled the formation of the Fleet, Commercial and Industrial (FCI) division to provide its customers with complete lubricant service.

In 1996, Quaker State expanded its consumer product offering by acquiring Slick 50®, the Houston-based maker of Slick 50® Automotive Engine Treatment and a full line of other specialty chemical treatments for the automotive and industrial markets. With the largest market share and annual sales of approximately $80 million, Slick 50® is the number-one brand in the engine treatment category. Further capitalizing on its sales, distribution and customer service expertise in the automotive aftermarket arena, Quaker State acquired Blue Coral® in June 1996.

Quaker Supreme Chemical Corporation of Montgomery, Ala., also joined the Quaker State family in June. Its Quaker Supreme and private label brands of automotive chemicals and lubricants further leveraged the Quaker State existing business, especially as a supplier of brake fluids. The Medo Companies, headquartered in Tarrytown, NY, were added to the Quaker State family in August of the same year. Medo is a world leader in the design and manufacture of air freshener products for use in automobiles. 1997 was a very active year for the company, especially in the realm of product acquisitions. In February, Quaker State cemented its leadership position in the category by purchasing T-Plus Engine Treatment, which held the number three position. The entire line of window sun protection products and automotive accessories from Axius Holdings, LP was acquired in August, and Rain-X® glass coatings and treatments were added in November of that year. Quaker State also sold two portions of its business including the last of its refineries. This facility in West Virginia was sold to Ergon, Inc. Truck-Lite, the firm's vehicular lighting subsidiary, was also sold. The agreement to sell Truck-Lite to Penske Capital Partners was announced in October.

Finally, 1997 was also the year that Quaker State began its historic relationship with Hendrick Motorsports—helping the team win more races and more titles than any other team.

On December 30, 1998, Quaker State Corporation was merged with Pennzoil Company's marketing, manufacturing and fast oil change businesses to form Pennzoil-Quaker State Company, a worldwide leader in consumer automotive products and vehicle care.

On October 1, 2002, the acquisition of Pennzoil-Quaker State Company by Shell Oil Company, an affiliate of the Royal Dutch/Shell Group of Companies (now Royal Dutch Shell plc), was completed. In May 2003, Pennzoil-Quaker State Company began doing business as SOPUS Products. Combining Shell networks and infrastructure with Pennzoil-Quaker State Company's leading motor oil brands, portfolio of car care brands and Jiffy Lube® stores, the new company becomes a leader in the U.S. lubricants and car care business.

Quaker State History