SEBRING - When British Petroleum sold its Texas City refinery to Marathon Petroleum in October, Charlie Taylor's business transformed too.
"We've changed all of our stores to Marathon," said Taylor, who owns Taylor Oil Co. in Avon Park. Taylor had been supplying his own five convenience stores in Highlands County with BP products, while Marathon had been selling to two branded stores and some unbranded stations.
At the same time that he's switching signs, Taylor is taking the opportunity to refresh his stores.
"We're brightening them up and cleaning them up. Marathon has red, white and blue colors, and we're looking forward to the new brand.
Taylor owns the Marathon gasoline side of Dunkin' Donuts in south Sebring. "We did that a year ago," he said.
The only remaining BP is on the west side of U.S. 27 in south Sebring; it will be converted in a few weeks, Taylor said.
BP's Texas City refinery was the scene of an industrial accident in 2005 that killed 15 people; BP also suffered through the 2010 Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico that killed 11 workers and unleashed the worst offshore spill in U.S. history.
The Texas City sale follows the $2.5 billion turnover of its Carson refinery in Southern California to Tesoro Corp. BP has sold some $35 billion in assets in an attempt to reach $38 billion by the end of 2013.
BP paid millions of dollars to the families of the deceased. In 2010, the British company agreed to pay a record $50.6 million penalty to federal safety regulators for other safety failures at the refinery, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Taylor said cash registers will be upgraded and a Marathon loyalty program will be added that includes a key fob to track coffee and soft drink. Customers get one free for every six they purchase. They can also win gas cards and a trip to Disney World.
In addition, if customers swipe their BP credit card, they can receive a $25 gas card for switching to Marathon.
Taylor said Marathon has STP additives to prevent the buildup of engine deposits.