Owensboro based Valor Oil announced last week that President Gary Emmick would be stepping down and his son Josh Emmick would be leading the company effective Jan. 1, 2020.
Josh, the current Executive Vice President, will become the third Emmick man to lead the company. After a massive stroke earlier this year, Gary will shift into his new role as chairman of the board and CEO.
“Josh got thrown in the deep end of the pool when I had the stroke, but he is swimming well,” Gary said. “It’s just time, we already had a plan for Josh to take the role in January 2020. My stroke just advanced the timeline.”
Gary is confident in Josh and knows that the business will continue to grow and be successful. Josh will handle day-to-day operations while Gary will focus more on long-term strategic planning.
Gary’s wife Lisa and daughter-in-law Sara also work in the business.
“My family all grew up on a farm and everyone pitched in to make it successful,” Gary said.
“That’s how my family has always approached this business.”
The entire family said they all are really proud that Josh is able to step into that third-generation Emmick role. Gary took over for his dad as president when he was 35 years old, and now Josh is doing the same.
Josh’s journey is similar to most kids who are a part of family-owned businesses. He grew up helping in the corporate offices and mowing yards, but once he was old enough to drive he started working in the warehouse and delivering packages to local businesses.
Josh earned his associates from Owensboro Community and Technical College. After graduating from Western Kentucky University in 2009, Josh and Gary began talking about their future roles in the company.
He started out as Controller. From 2014 to 2018 he ran the C&I division of the company before becoming Executive Vice President in 2018.
“It’s very humbling to continue to work on something that my grandparents and my parents have poured their lives into,” he said. “The statistics for family-owned businesses aren’t good. Only about 30 percent of family-owned businesses make it to the second generation, then about 12 percent make it to the third generation, followed by a staggering 3 percent for the fourth generation and beyond according to the Family Business Institute. To be part of that 12 percent is a great achievement.”
Josh said that one fairly unique thing about their situation is most people have gotten to the “siblings and cousins” by the third generation and they are still father-to-son.
“My family has always had a fantastic relationship which is what makes this whole thing work,” Josh said. “Over the past 53 years, we have added thousands of people to our Valor Oil family. Some stayed days and some stayed decades but these people are the ones who have made this all possible.”
Josh said his goal is to build a professional management team for the company.
“I want the company to be sustainable without the Emmick family involved,” he said. “I have two boys that may or may not have interest in working for the company. I never want them to feel pressured that they have to work for the business. By building a strong management team I can make sure that they have that leisure as they grow up.”
From the business side, Josh wants to continue building the company’s portfolio and expanding. For Owensboro, he hopes to continue to be a premier employer.
“A man alone with a vision is not nearly as powerful as a man who can lead people to his vision,” Josh said. “Our vision has always been to hire great individuals and treat them like family. If you treat people good and help them reach their potential the rest comes pretty easy.”
Today Valor Oil, formerly Emmick Oil, employs more than 200 people across a 250 square mile area. They have five bulk plants spread across Kentucky (Owensboro, Louisville, Bowling Green, Florence, Maysville) along with 11 HOP SHOP convenience stores in northern Kentucky and Ohio. In Owensboro, they have one of five racing fuel blending facilities in the nation. Racing fuel is shipped internationally from here. Valor also operates a Diesel Exhaust Fluid blending facility which supplies a seven-state area.