What is EZ GO?
EZ GO is dedicated to the highest quality of customer service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride and company spirit.
It all began in 1963, when W. Carey Johnson moved to Lawton, Oklahoma and bought Runyon Oil Company, a two-man operation with a closet-sized office and warehouse, a bobtail gas truck, and six gas stations. Carey Johnson Oil Company was launched!
Four service stations were built or rebuilt in the next two years. In 1967, we moved out of the old building on Railroad Street and into the warehouse at 702 F Avenue in Lawton. Growth continued, as Johnson Oil added stations all around southwest Oklahoma and expanded its commercial business.
We soon outgrew our office space, so the office moved into a trailer in front of the warehouse in 1976.
In 1979, Bedford Mitchell joined the firm as a partner. He and Mr. Johnson recognized that customer needs were changing, and that many people had come to prefer convenience stores to the traditional service station. This recognition became the driving force behind the creation of EZ GO Foods in 1980.
The first EZ GO store was #9, at the corner of West Cache Road and Gasoline Alley. In the next three years, we opened #30, #27, #35, and #16. In 1985, EZ GO burst the boundaries of Lawton and began opening our highly successful turnpike stores. The first was #44 in Walters. #40, #41, #42, and #43 came on board the following year. Back in Lawton, we continued launching new stores. By the end of 1987, we had opened #36, #38, #39, #33, and #34.
The late 1980s and early 1990s were a rough period for the convenience store industry, with bankruptcies even among the largest chains like 7 Eleven and Circle K. EZ GO weathered this slowdown easily and continued growing. We rebuilt several stores and opened a new one in Muskogee (#50). In 1992 we remodeled our turnpike stores, expanding several of the buildings and adding new equipment and features to all.
We opened our first EZ GO/Burger King combination store at the end of 1993 on the Cherokee Turnpike east of Tulsa. Our second EZ GO/Burger King was built in Altus and opened for business in November 1995.
In March of 1997, EZ GO expanded into Kansas with two turnpike stores on I-70 near Topeka and Lawrence.
In August of 2001, we purchased a store in Lawton that we called #36. Later in 2001, we started a raze-and-rebuild project at store #34 in Lawton. The new state-of-the-art convenience store and restaurant opened in June of 2002.
In December of 2003, we purchased nine turnpike stores in central and northeastern Oklahoma from Phillips Petroleum. Included were the well-known midway stop on the Turner Turnpike at Stroud, Oklahoma, along with the smaller stores along the Turner, Cimarron, and Will Rogers Turnpikes. With this purchase, EZ GO became the sole operator of turnpike travel centers in Oklahoma.
In July of 2007, we re-opened our first store, EZ GO #9, after a complete raze and rebuild. It became the largest and most modern convenience store in southwest Oklahoma, with sixteen fueling positions, two car wash bays, and a large canopy connecting the fuel islands to the store. It also featured an expanded food offering that became a signature element in stores to come.
In October of 2007, we acquired two more stores in Kansas from ConocoPhillips: #72 at Emporia and #75 at Belle Plaine. We then had half the concession areas on the Kansas Turnpike system. The next year we completely rebuilt the Belle Plaine store, and in 2009 we did the same raze-and-rebuild project at Lawrence. The new facilities were vast improvements on what was there before. The pattern continued in 2011 when we razed and rebuilt the Oklahoma turnpike facilities at Chickasha and Muskogee in cooperation with McDonald’s. The new travel centers were huge in comparison to the old. Turnpike travelers welcomed the change!
We began the year 2013 with a new store in southwest Lawton. We also broke into our third state, developing two stores in the city of Lincoln, Nebraska. All three stores shared a common design that was absolutely unique in the c-store industry, including tall columns with wind turbines, a main roof integrated with a canopy cantilevered over the forecourt, and touch-free rest rooms with natural light.
In 2014, we opened a new turnpike travel center on the Indian Nation Turnpike in McAlester, Oklahoma. That store was our first to offer compressed natural gas (CNG) as a fueling option. We also added CNG at our turnpike travel center near Stroud, Oklahoma. In 2015, we took over operations at two more Kansas Turnpike locations: Matfield Green and Towanda.
Our travel center on the H.E. Bailey Turnpike near Walters, Oklahoma is being rebuilt from the ground up. The new store will feature a restaurant in addition to our usual wide selection of food, beverages, snacks, gifts and convenience items.
The future is bright!
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