Valvoline Instant Oil Change, the nation's second biggest chain of drive-thru oil change and automotive maintenance centers behind Houston-based Jiffy Lube, has inked deals for the first company-owned locations in the Houston market.
Lexington, Ky.-based Valvoline has secured sites in Grand Parkway Marketplace II, a regional shopping center at Kuykendahl Road and the Grand Parkway in Spring near The Woodlands, and at Texas 96 and South Shore Boulevard in League City for its initial locations, according to the Weitzman real estate firm.
Valvoline, a motor oil brand that dates to 1866, has operated a plant in Deer Park for 35 years but has not had a big retail presence locally.
"We see Houston just as a tremendous opportunity," said Tony Puckett, president of Valvoline's Quick Lubes business segment. "It's one of the largest markets that we believe we're underserving across the U.S."
The new locations represent the first of five planned company-owned stores in fiscal 2018, ending in September, and more are in the works, Puckett said. The stores, which typically employ about 10 people, provide preventive maintenance services, including changing oil filters, fluids, bulbs and batteries and tire rotation. Most services can be done while the customer waits in the car.
Valvoline's spinoff from Ashland as a separate company in 2016 positioned it to grow its Valvoline Instant Oil Change brand. Valvoline opened three company-owned stores in fiscal 2017, and plans to add 23 to 25 more in 2018. It also acquired 28 stores in east Texas and Louisiana.
"We really didn't have the capacity to expand beyond the core markets we were in," Puckett said. Its Texas locations, largely in the Dallas and San Antonio areas, along with one in Conroe, have traditionally been operated by franchisees.
Weitzman's James Namken and Kyle Knight represent Valvoline Instant Oil Change in its quest for sites in the Houston area. The upcoming locations are in high traffic areas near major retailers, including H-E-B and Kroger in League City and Target and Academy Sports & Outdoors at Grand Parkway Marketplace.
Valvoline Instant Oil Change has about 1,100 stores, including about 400 owned by Valvoline. Jiffy Lube, a subsidiary of Shell Oil Co., has grown to about 2,000 locations, including nearly 50 in the Houston area, since 1979.
Among Valvoline's biggest markets, each with about 50 stores, are Minneapolis/St. Paul and St. Louis.
"I'm hopeful that Houston in the future will be our largest," Puckett said.
This story, by Katherine Feser, first appeared on houstonchronicle.com