Warren Lerch started Service Oil Company in 1959. It is now run by his son, Gary Lerch, and his business partner Patrick Grasley.
Back in 1959, “the station” consisted of full service fuel islands and light service such as oil changes and manual car washing. The original structure had three bays: two automotive service bays and the third reserved for fire trucks in the Town of Algoma Fire Department. In 1971, the Fire Department moved out of the third bay and a beverage mart was constructed in its place. By then Service Oil had evolved into all major and minor repairs, with a specialization in automotive and mobile refrigeration.
In 1986, an addition was constructed on the beverage mart to create the new convenience store concept. The automotive service aspect of the business evolved into installing after-market products for new car dealers such as air conditioning, speed controls, power windows and locks, radios, remote entry and sun rooves. The company began consulting, designing, and installing air conditioning systems for Oshkosh Corporation for off-road and military vehicles, too.
Nineteen ninety-two brought the most significant change to the company since it originated: Various land acquisitions finally allowed the construction of an entirely new building. The new building housed a 4,100 square foot convenience store and a 4,700 square foot automotive repair center. By 2000 a second 4,700 square foot addition was added to the automotive repair center, bringing the total service area to 9,400 square feet. Three hoists and a Hunter Alignment center were installed bringing the total number of service bays to 24.
More than 50 years later, Service Oil Company is still standing strong. A staple to Oshkosh, and especially the Town of Algoma, it continues to be the area’s top destination for automotive repair. Mostly, though, it’s “where friends meet friends.”