Beautifully engraved certificate from the Sun Oil Company
no later than 1976. This historic document was printed by the American Banknote Company and has an
ornate border around it with a vignette of an allegorical man and woman flanking the company's logo. This item has the printed signatures of the Company’s President, Robert G. Dunlop and is
over 27 years old.
Sunoco, Inc., headquartered in Philadelphia, PA, is a leading manufacturer and marketer of petroleum and petrochemical products. With 730,000 barrels per day of refining capacity, over 4,600 retail sites selling gasoline and convenience items, interests in almost 11,000 miles of domestic crude oil and refined product pipelines and 34 product terminals, Sunoco is one of the largest independent refiner-marketers in the United States. Sunoco is a growing force in petrochemicals with approximately six billion pounds of annual sales, largely chemical intermediates used in the manufacture of fibers, plastics, film and resins. Utilizing a proprietary technology, Sunoco also manufactures two million tons annually of high-quality blast furnace coke for use in the steel industry.
Sunoco got its start on March 27, 1886, when Joseph Newton Pew and Edward O. Emerson, partners in The Peoples Natural Gas Company in Pittsburgh, Pa., made a bold move to diversify their business. Looking to the promising new oil discoveries in Ohio and Pennsylvania, the partners paid $4,500 for two oil leases near Lima, Ohio. Within a few years the company had acquired pipelines, leases, storage tanks -- and was emerging as one of Ohio's leading suppliers of crude oil. On March 17, 1890, it became The Sun Oil Company of Ohio and was producing, transporting and storing oil as well as refining, shipping and marketing petroleum products. Through the purchase of the Diamond Oil Company in 1894, Sun acquired a refinery in Toledo, Ohio, and began operations there in 1895. The partnership ended in 1899, when Mr. Pew bought out Mr. Emerson's interest.
In May 1901, the company headed by Mr. Pew was incorporated in New Jersey as Sun Company and began securing leases and crude oil in the new Spindletop field in Texas. With business growing, Mr. Pew in 1901 purchased 82 acres in Marcus Hook, Pa., as the site for a second refinery to process crude oil shipped by tanker from Spindletop. Marcus Hook went on stream on March 20 that year.
In 1912, the year after Sun Company celebrated its 25th anniversary, Joseph Newton Pew died and was succeeded as President by his 30-year-old son, J. Howard Pew, whose brother, Joseph N. Pew, Jr., became Vice President.
Years of Innovation
The Pew brothers pioneered innovation and expansion of the company. In 1916 they established Sun Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, a subsidiary that took the company into the shipbuilding business. In 1920 Sun opened its first service station in Ardmore, Pa., and then another in Toledo, Ohio. The name changed to Sun Oil Company in 1922 to better identify the company with its business. On November 12, 1925, Sun went public -- its stock appearing for the first time on the New York Stock Exchange.
Before the decade was over, Sun was in the oil field equipment business with the 1929 formation of Sperry-Sun, a joint venture with Sperry Gyroscope. One of the most dramatic events of the 1930s for the company -- and the refining industry -- took place when Sun placed on stream the world's first large-scale, commercial catalytic cracking plant in Marcus Hook in 1937.
The mining business attracted Sun in 1941, when Sun formed the Cordero Mining Company in Nevada to supply mercury for Sunoco motor oils. The metal proved vital during the World War II effort. So too did Sun Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company -- which turned out 40 percent of all wartime tankers built or reconverted.
By 1947 J. Howard Pew was 65 years old and resigned as President, to be succeeded on March 18 of that year by Robert G. Dunlop. Mr. Pew remained a director, and his brother Joseph N. Pew, Jr., was named Chairman of the Board.
Expanding North and South
The company was expanding north and south by the 1950s. In Canada Sun started a 15,000 barrels per day refinery in Sarnia, Ontario, in 1953. And in Venezuela beginning in 1957 Venezuelan Sun Oil Company produced more than one billion barrels of oil from Lake Maracaibo before ceasing operations when the Venezuelan government nationalized Sun's holdings in 1975.
Back in the States, 1956 was the year Sun introduced the Custom Blending Pump, a novel system for dispensing a choice of several octane grades of gasoline from a single pump. It revolutionized the method of marketing gasoline, and a model of the pump is on display at the Smithsonian Institution.
Joseph N. Pew, Jr., son of the founder and Chairman of the Board, died in 1963. His brother, J. Howard Pew, became Chairman.
A bold venture began for Sun in 1967 in the Athabasca oil sands of Canada, with Sun's Great Canadian Oil Sands Limited subsidiary completing its processing facility in northern Alberta. The plant had the capacity to produce 45,000 barrels per day of synthetic crude oil from the estimated 300 billion barrels of recoverable oil locked in the sands.
Sun Reshapes --and Later Renames
Sun grew by merger in 1968. On October 25 Sun Oil Company and Sunray DX Oil Company, headquartered in Tulsa, Okla., merged to form a new Sun Oil Company. Two years later Robert G. Dunlop replaced J. Howard Pew as Chairman of the Board and H. Robert Sharbaugh was elected President and Chief Operating Officer of the company. Having been based in downtown Philadelphia for many years, Sun Oil Company moved to a new headquarters building in St. Davids, Pa., in 1971. That year, on November 17, J. Howard Pew died -- having just celebrated his 70th year with Sun Oil Company.
Major restructuring reshaped the company in 1975, when it organized into fourteen operating units, two property companies and a non-operating parent company, and moved to a major new corporate headquarters in Radnor, Pa. H. Robert Sharbaugh, President and CEO of Sun Oil Company, was elected Chairman of the Board. Reflecting the diversification of the company, Sun Oil Company was renamed Sun Company in 1976. There were changes in management that year too with Theodore A. Burtis being elected President and Chief Operating Officer and Mr. Sharbaugh continuing as Chairman and CEO. In 1978, Mr. Burtis would take the post of CEO.
A Major Expansion
In a dramatic acquisition in 1980, Sun purchased the U.S. oil and gas properties of Texas Pacific Oil Company, Inc., a subsidiary of The Seagram Company, Ltd., for $2.3 billion. At the time this was the second largest acquisition in the history of U.S. business. Also bought that year: Viking Oil Limited, owner of a 20 percent interest in promising production blocks in the North Sea. The year before, in 1979, Sun had also taken a wider position in coal by acquiring eastern reserves from Elk River Resources, Inc.
Sun sold Sperry-Sun in 1981 and Sun Ship in 1982. The latter ended the company's 65 years in the shipbuilding business. It was a new look in 1981 when the word SUN in blue block letters on a white sunburst became the identifying symbol of the company. Keeping its familiar Sunoco Diamond and DX symbols at the pump, Sun intensified its marketing push in 1983 with the introduction of Sunoco ULTRA, the highest octane premium unleaded gasoline available from a major U.S. refiner.
The early 1980s brought expansion on a number of fronts. Internationally, Sun signed on to develop interests in the North Sea and offshore China. Domestic reserves were added with the acquisition of Exeter Oil Company, Victory Oil Company and interests of Petro-Lewis Corporation in 1984. The coal business grew too with the acquisition of Whitaker Coal Corporation in Kentucky in 1983. At the same time, responding to the market, Sun began to reduce its lube oil business.
On July 3, 1985, Robert McClements, Jr., President of the company, became CEO as well, with Theodore A. Burtis continuing as Chairman of the Board. The following year Mr. Burtis resigned that post, but remained a director. Mr. McClements took over as Chairman and Robert P. Hauptfuhrer was made President and Chief Operating Officer.
Focus on Refining and Marketing
In 1988 Sun's board approved a major restructuring of the company, disposing of all domestic oil and gas exploration and production through the distribution of Sun Exploration and Production Company, a wholly owned subsidiary, to the common shareholders of Sun Company, Inc., and focusing on the "downstream" part of the business -- refining and marketing.
The renewed focus on refining and marketing began immediately with the acquisition of Atlantic Petroleum Corporation, bringing to Sun another refinery, a network of service stations and a pipeline system. Six years later, the company acquired Chevron's Philadelphia Refinery, immediately adjacent to the former Atlantic facility, and set to work combining the two into a single, more efficient refining complex that was linked directly to the Marcus Hook Refinery, just 12 miles away.
In the early 1990s, the company moved its headquarters from Radnor to downtown Philadelphia and exited the international exploration business.
Sun's strategic direction would now focus on the value added businesses: branded gasoline marketing in the northeastern U.S.; lubricants; chemicals; and logistics. Part of that new strategic focus called for divesting Sun's interest in the real estate business, a process that began in 1991, and in Suncor, the Canadian subsidiary, a process that was completed in 1995. Cordero Mining Company was sold in 1993 and Sun's international oil and gas production business was sold in 1996.