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Fort Deposit family business passed down through generations

By Eason Franklin
The Lowndes Signal

Numerous businesses, establishments and stores have taken root on the Lowndes County landscape for many generations.

One of those companies is a family-owned business and has been for around 82 years and going.

Located in Ft. Deposit, business for Ellis Oil Company started around 1928 by Hense R. Ellis.

Hense bought a consigneeship with The Texas Company, now Texaco, from a businessman in Ft. Deposit, according to owner Eric Ellis.

Hense and his two sons, Ned and John, formed a partnership around 1960 consisting of Ellis Oil among other investment opportunities.

The joint ownership continued until Hense died in 1965. His sons continued the businesses operations and the oil company became a distributorship in the early 1970s.

John and Ned’s partnership between each other and their affiliation with Texaco ended around the mid-1980s and the company was owned solely by John until his death in 1996. Now the business is owned by  John’s son, Eric.

The company sells motor fuel to government, agricultural, commercial and independent retailers of all shapes and sizes throughout the southern half of Alabama.

Some of Ellis’ business comes from a card-lock. Ellis Oil issues a card to someone, then that person can access the unattended fuel station, or use the card at a number of other fueling locations.

Ellis Oil employs about 11 workers, five drivers, four office personnel, one maintenance worker and Eric.

Primarily, the company serves as a middle-man, buying the fuel wholesale, then selling and transporting it to commercial and retail account holders.

The company holds hundreds of accounts, according to Eric and some of those accounts have been active for 10 years or more.

“We‘re glad to have every one of our accounts,” said Eric. “There are a lot of really good companies in this business and they are very competitive.”