Northwest Business Magazine

Kelley Williamson Co. Expands into Downtown Rockford


A new Mobil/Kelley’s Market location has arrived, and with it comes a new service to a growing market. But unlike other growth stories, this market isn’t at the edge of urban sprawl.

A new Mobil/Kelley’s Market in downtown Rockford is the latest achievement for Kelley Williamson Company, a family-owned business. (Samantha Behling photo)

A new Mobil/Kelley’s Market in downtown Rockford is the latest achievement for Kelley Williamson Company, a family-owned business. (Samantha Behling photo)

Kelley Williamson Co., headquartered in Rockford, has developed and sustained a proven record of success since founders Walt Williamson and Nate Kelley began the oil and lubrication business in 1926. Today, the company has more than 560 employees and is the oldest distributor of Exxon Mobil Corp. products in the United States.

With 50 Mobil gas stations and state-of-the-art Kelley’s Market convenience stores located in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin, it’s apparent that Kelley Williamson Co. has succeeded in building positive relationships with customers and communities. The company remains a private, family-owned business led by a third generation with John Griffin, Williamson’s grandson, serving as president.

“Our family is from the Rockford area,” says Griffin. “I’ve been watching the positive changes going on downtown and was highly interested in building a top-quality location there. The City of Rockford is doing amazing things, and it was a good use of our dollars to bring our business here.”

Kelley Williamson Company also operates a successful Oil and Lubricants division, KWOil, which is one of the area’s largest suppliers of commercial, industrial and agricultural lubricants and fuels, representing products from Mobil and other industry leaders.

“Our lubrication business services car dealerships and anybody who needs lubrication products,” Griffin says. Customer reach extends to Chicago/Lake Michigan and up north into Wisconsin.

With confidence in its growth potential, Kelley Williamson Co. has expanded its footprint into downtown Rockford by purchasing an expansive parcel of more than 2 acres. The site encompasses a complete city block at East Jefferson and North Second streets. The new Mobil/Kelley’s Market, opened in June 2018, is home to a 4,032-square-foot Kelley’s Market, 14 fuel pumps under a seven-island canopy, a car wash and 20 employees.

“This is just a premier and fantastic location for our business with the access we have on all four sides, even with three streets being one-way,” Griffin says. “It also provided us an opportunity to offer many new products and services for this locally under-served community.”

Kelley’s Market offerings are a far cry from the industry’s usual general fare as a tobacco, pop and beer shop.

“We wanted to weave into our product mix different types of merchandise and healthy products, such as fresh produce, fruits and salads,” says Griffin. “Items are pre-packaged and sliced, too, so customers can just purchase them and take them on their way.”

Customers can treat their taste buds to breakfast, lunch and dinner with sandwiches, munchies and snacks, along with their favorite beverage.

The company is always on the lookout for something new to offer its customers.

“We’re the first in the area to have Noble Roman Pizza,” Griffin adds. Fresh, hot pizzas are ready on site, and take-and-bake pizzas are available for purchase.

“It’s tasty, fast and high-quality. We’re happy the mix of sought-after fresh foods has been a hit at Kelley’s Markets and praise has been very positive from the community.”

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