MARIETTA — Many in the Marietta business community consider Kim Gresh, president of S.A. White Oil Company, one of the most dedicated philanthropists in the county. She has a reputation as a relentless fundraiser for the causes for which she is dedicated. However, behind the oil tanks on Atlanta Street, which have long been a part of Marietta’s history and landscape, sits a determined businesswoman purposely steering her family business forward.
She is the third generation to run the wholesale petroleum business started by her maternal grandparents in 1926. Her grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. S.A. White, originally opened a general store around the corner from the current location, near the street car line that connected Marietta and Atlanta. When customers began to ask for kerosene and gasoline, they expanded their products and moved to the current location.
Gresh’s grandmother worked at the business daily alongside her husband. Gresh says she thought this was normal until she realized hers was the only grandmother she knew that worked outside the home.
“I come by this woman-owned business thing quite naturally,” Gresh said.
In 1963, when Gresh was 7 years old, her grandfather was among those killed in a natural-gas explosion at Atherton’s Pharmacy on the Square.
After his death, the business passed to Kim’s mother, Suse Ann White Gresh, and to Kim’s uncle. But her uncle already owned another successful business, so her parents bought his share, she said.
“Starting in 1963, this officially became a woman-owned business,” Gresh said. As an only child, she recalls spending most of her days at the business once her parents took over.
“I literally grew up here … It’s all I’ve ever known,” she said.
After college, she worked a few years in the family’s other enterprise, a liquor store, but her father eventually enticed her to the oil firm. She was named president in 1999.
Today, the company has 50 employees and contracts with about 100 convenience stores, selling branded fuel to Texaco, Citgo, Marathon and ConocoPhillips stations. It also delivers fuel to a number of large, generator-dependent businesses. Clients include WellStar, Lockheed, C.W. Matthews, Cobb County fire stations and the city of Atlanta Public Works. Its product offerings include diesel exhaust fuel, lubricants and renewable biofuels.
Ten years ago, Gresh began a separate business, Mobilized Fuels, to deliver and fuel commercial truck fleets overnight. She started with two trucks, but recently ordered a ninth, she said.
The two companies distribute 100 million gallons of fuel per year and will have combined annual revenues of $350 million this year, she said.
Gresh has made a name for herself in the male-dominated industry. She was the first female on both ConocoPhillips National Marketer Council and the Georgia Oilmen’s Association board.
She says it has become her tradition at the Oilmen’s Association to open every meeting with a motion to change the name to represent both genders in the industry, but it goes nowhere.
“There are a few of us out there now, but the guys still rule,” she said with a chuckle.
When she is not battling the sexes in the boardroom, she is likely raising money for one of her many community causes. She serves on the board of trustees for the WellStar Foundation, and the board of directors for the YWCA of Northwest Georgia, Friends of the Strand and the Cobb Community Foundation, and she is active in Marietta Metro Rotary Club. She has been named Marietta Citizen of the Year, Rotarian of the Year, YWCA’s Woman of the Year, Siegel Institute’s Phenomenal Woman of the Year, and Marietta Schools Alumnus of the Year.
Earl Reece, executive the Strand Theatre, describes Gresh as one of the most amazing and funniest people he has ever known.
“Kim’s impact on our community is immeasurable,” Reece said. “Having worked with Kim on many projects and committees, I can say without hesitation that our community would not be what it is today without the support of this unselfishly dedicated woman.”
EXECUTIVE PROFILE: KIM GRESH
* TITLE: President, S.A. White Oil Co., and Mobilized Fuels
* AGE: 56
* FAMILY: Husband, George Hartzog
* FIRST JOB: Accounts receivable at S.A. White. “My father told me I had to work.”
* BEST JOB: “Of course, president of S.A. White.”
* LESSON LEARNED THE HARD WAY: “My father really does know best!”
* ADVICE TO THE NEXT GENERATION: “Find something you are interested in, and LOVE doing.”