Wagner Oil Company


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The Wagner Oil Co. in Antigo celebrated its 75 anniversary this fall with a number of events at its flagship store and office in Antigo marking a successful tradition in the marketing and distributing of fuel.  Wagner Oil Co. is a three-generation business that over seven and one-half decades has become the largest Shell fuel distributor in Wisconsin.

“It’s all centered in this little office in Antigo,” Howard Wagner explained this morning.

The firm got a start with Howard’s father, Harvey, who in 1937 became manager of a full-service garage and filling station at Superior Street and 10th Avenue/Weed Street.

Wagner left that post to work on the wartime highway to Alaska and when he returned in 1943, took over the North Union, a very popular gasoline source, repair facility and for years was the home to a taxi cab company at First Avenue and Superior Street.

He then seized the opportunity to be awarded the Cities Service franchise for the region and moved to a repair facility and gas station at Third Avenue and Superior Street in 1947.

Wagner was the dealer for fuel and lubricants in addition from the Third Avenue station, and through a number of remodelings and rebuildings, sold the business to his son, Howard, in 1982.

Howard had been involved in management of the fuel dealership and was spotting the emerging trends, building the firm’s first convenience store/gas station in downtown Wittenberg and then another on busy Highway 41 in Oconto.

Wagner Oil was selling about four million gallons of fuel to the three stations and oil for the bulk plant, which prompted purchase of the first tanker truck setup.

Howard bought the business from his father, Harvey and his mother, Nell, in 1982, and in 1984 decided to shift to the Shell Oil brand. Shortly after the conversion a state-of-the-art convenience store, a Silverado, was built in Green Bay, and the ball was rolling.

Dealers were added in Wisconsin and Upper Michigan and by 1989 the firm was selling and hauling more than 15 million gallons of fuel.

John, Howard’s son, joined the firm in 1990 and the number of gallons soared to 35 million in 1999.

The growth continued with additional Wagner locations across the region, including the oil company’s office and convenience store at South Superior Street and Forest Avenue in Antigo in 1997.

One success led to another. The Wagner firm is now up to 14 different convenience stores, many among the most modern in the state of Wisconsin and well over 65 dealers distributing Shell products that are sold and transported by Wagner.

There is a fleet of 10 trucks and they are rolling pretty well all the time from Milwaukee to Ashland and Houghton in Upper Michigan. Of course, there are stops between all of those locations.

Wagner estimated that the total gallons of fuel, a mix between diesel and gasoline, is somewhere close to 80 million gallons as 2013 looms.

Wagner said the office staff in Antigo processes a massive amount of money, pays state and federal taxes, keeps trucks filled and on the road and is constantly looking for new customers.

It is a three generation family that really works. In addition to Howard, his wife Melissa and son John deeply involved in the operations as well as his son David, who returned to join the company in 2008.