These three guys – Charles Dwight (Doc) Liggett, Jim Hill and Robert DeHart – began packaging STP® Oil Treatment in a backyard garage. They packaged it at night and sold it from the trunks of their cars during their business and pleasure trips. The company’s initial growth and profitability, largely because of strong word-of-mouth and the brand’s link to auto racing, enabled STP to introduce its first Gas Treatment in 1960. In 1961, STP was purchased by the Studebaker Packard Corporation. Now the Packard—that was one fine automobile.
Andy Granatelli was appointed CEO in 1963 and began to increase the brand’s marketing efforts through auto and boat racing. Eventually, STP sponsored its own Indy Car racing team, featuring Mario Andretti, the winner of the 1969 Indianapolis 500. (Note: If you’re on Facebook, this was probably before your time.)
STP® product distribution began to grow and by 1963 STP® products were available in more than 200,000 gasoline stations across the U.S. By the end of 1968, sales had climbed to more than $43 million. Needless to say, the three guys were no longer packaging STP in their backyard. In early 1969, STP became a public corporation and shares went on the American Stock Exchange under the symbol …wait for it…””STP.””
The 1970s saw significant international growth, and in 1972 STP made headlines throughout the world by hooking up with future stock car legend Richard Petty, a partnership that continues to this day. By 1973, STP reported sales of more than $54 million and a net income of more than $1 million. Products were marketed throughout the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and nearly 100 countries around the world. Some of them really hard to spell. In 1978, STP introduced new, improved grades of motor oil as well as sleek-looking, easy-to-pour Gas Treatment containers. Later that year, the STP Corporation was acquired by Chicago-based Esmark, Inc.
In the early 1980s, STP vigorously explored diversification possibilities and put additional emphasis on its research and development programs. Leo J. LeClair was named President and Chief Executive Officer and directed the company’s move to a new world headquarters in Boca Raton, Fla. You ever been to Boca? They got real nice beaches, and pretty girls in bathing suits.
Beatrice Companies purchased Esmark, Inc. in 1984, and then, a year later, Union Carbide bought STP. In 1986 the Home and Automotive Division of Union Carbide became First Brands Inc. through a management leveraged buyout. By the 1990s, the brand had built a presence in practically every country in the world through a mixture of sales and international subsidiaries. In January 1999, The Clorox Company completed its acquisition of First Brands Corporation. For years, the reason people rely on STP® products has been simple: STP® products give you the “”power”” to get maximum performance from your car. Those three guys from St. Joseph did one heck of a job.
So that’s the story of STP. Helping cars run better, longer, since 1954. And helping you take care of your vehicle and not be That Guy, starting right now.
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