Middletown company recognized as tops in the nation

Hightowers Petroleum Co. of Middletown, a fuel distributor, was recently recognized by Black Enterprise as the magazine’s black-owned industrial/service company of the year.

The Middletown company was selected for the honor from a list of candidates nationwide.

Black Enterprise officials presented the award to Hightowers Petroleum CEO and Middletown native Stephen Hightower in May, at an entrepreneur’s conference held in Columbus.

Each year Black Enterprise compiles a list of the 100 largest black-owned companies in the nation, and selects companies from the list that are top in their industries.

This year Hightowers Petroleum ranked 10th on the list of America’s largest black-owned companies, based on revenues, said Alan Hughes, editorial director of Black Enterprise.

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Hightowers Petroleum accumulated more than $300 million in revenues in 2012, according to the company.

While the list of 100 largest companies is based on pure numbers, the award for industrial/service company of the year is based on both quantitative and qualitative factors, Hughes said.

“He’s in a space that there’s not a lot of African American players at that level. So that’s something that got our attention,” Hughes said.

“In the black business community, it’s sort of a sign that you made it,” Hughes said. “He’s in some prestigious company.”

The magazine’s issue featuring the top 100 companies and award winners goes to print later this month.

Hightowers Petroleum President and Chief Executive Stephen Hightower said making the list of Black Enterprise’s top 100 companies is like making the Fortune 500 list for African American-owned businesses.

“To be at the top of anything in Black Enterprise is ultimately a dream for any black entrepreneur,” Hightower said.

Hightowers Petroleum, incorporated in 1985, buys fuel from refineries, and then sells and distributes it. It does business in about 40 states and operates 15 satellite offices. Customers include The Kroger Co., General Motors Co., AK Steel Holding Corp., State of Ohio and others.

Someone who buys a General Motors vehicle off the lot is likely to have had it fueled by Hightowers Petroleum.

Hightowers Petroleum is ranked the Tri-state’s 37th largest company by Deloitte Cincinnati USA 100.

Stephen Hightower also owns Hi-Mark Construction Group, incorporated in 1992, a design build general contractor for commercial building and wastewater treatment projects. The construction company has satellite offices in Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Middletown.

Hightower’s newest business, HP Energy Co. LLC, founded in 2012, is a company that develops energy efficiency projects to help customers lower their energy costs. Offices are in New York, California and Middletown. HP Energy also provides the financing to pay for the energy efficiency project.

Altogether, the companies have approximately 80 total full-time employees nationwide.

In an interview with this newspaper, Hightower said he has set a goal for Hightowers Petroleum to reach $1 billion in sales by 2017, up from more than $300 million in 2012.

If the company reaches $1 billion in sales, Hightower said he wants to have some kind of liquidity event. That means one of several things could happen — an initial public offering, private stock offering, bond issue or major reinvestment into the business, he said.

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