Reddoch: Selling gas and service

Published 6:15 pm Friday, March 9, 2012

Gas is already nudging $4 a gallon at Reddoch’s Service Station in Brundidge.

But Byron Reddoch’s not concerned that his pumps are reading $3.999.

He doesn’t just sell gas, he sells service and has been for 58 years and counting.

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“Not many places you can go nowadays and have somebody pump your gas, clean your windshield and check your oil and tires,” Reddoch said. “I still do all that. I’ve got customers that have been coming here for 40 years. They don’t have to get out of their car and they like that, especially some of the elderly ladies. I try to take care of them.”

Reddoch said his gas prices stay rather steady.

“I don’t change the price of my gas two or three times a day,” he said. “When I run out of gas and the price goes up on me, the next time I buy I have to go up on the price but that’s the only time I do.

“And, too, my gas is still gasoline. It’s doesn’t have ethanol in it and people say they get better gas mileage. When I put gas in a car, it’s gas that goes in.”

Reddoch has weathered a lot of “storms” and managed to keep his business afloat at its same location on the north end of town for nearly six decades.

He got in the “fillin’ station” business working one shift at Cecil Capito’s gas station on the corner of South Brundidge and Madison streets in Troy.

That was a pretty good job for a young man from Thundering Springs in rural Pike County and Reddoch said he didn’t mind which of the three eight-hour shifts he ran.

“There was a little café in the station and we were open 24 hours a day,” Reddoch said. “We stayed busy just about all the time because we were a real service station.”

Reddoch said he was happy with his job and hadn’t thought about owning a station until Joe Hollis of Hollis and Clark Oil Company approached him with the idea.

“Hollis and Clark had a Pan Am distributorship and Glen Wilson had a little station in Brundidge and wanted to get out of the business,” Reddoch said. “He did a little bit of everything – sold gas, fixed tires, washed cars did a little mechanic work on cars.

“I didn’t buy it right off but, when I did, it wasn’t all that much of an investment. Back then, things were cheap.”

Reddoch saw the purchase of the service station as a good investment and a relatively safe one.

“I bought the station before they put in the by-pass so all of the highway traffic was coming right by the station,” he said. “Back then, Brundidge was a busy town and just about every store in town had a gas pump. And, we had a Texaco station and a Gulf station — and they were right next to each other — and a Shell station.

“We had service stations all over town and we all had enough business to stay in business and most of the business was local. Not many of the people that were just passing through stopped in Brundidge but it was a bustling town.

“We had three sawmills, three hardwares, cotton gins, four or five clothing stores, several grocery stores, dry cleaners, an ice house, just about anything that you needed you could get in Brundidge. But things have really changed in a lot of ways and it’s getting harder and harder to make a living.”

Reddoch said taxes on gasoline and strict regulations have made it difficult to stay in the gas business.

“You’ve got so much paperwork to do that it’s almost not worth it,” he said.

“I don’t sell gas like I used to. I just don’t compete with these stations where the price goes up and down all time. Their prices will be one thing in the morning and something else in the afternoon. You don’t ever know.  I keep my prices steady and give good service.

“I do a lot of small motor repair work. I guess you could say that’s a sideline business. It brings in a little money. But, I don’t know how much longer I’ll keep going. It probably won’t be much longer, though.”

When Reddoch decides it’s time to shut down the pumps, an era will have passed.

No longer will a motorist be able to pull up to the pump, roll down the car window and say, “Fill’er up and check the oil, please.”

And, there won’t be a friendly face around to say, “Much obliged. Come back to see us.”