A. Kent Van Cleave, an Auburn University School of Forestry graduate and registered forester, moved his family from Jacksonville, FL to Centreville, MS in 1964 to manage St. Regis Lumber Co. properties in Crosby, MS. He left St. Regis in 1965 to form Buffalo Wood, Inc. - still a family-owned and operated timber management business that also buys and sells pulpwood and timber. Company names in the wood industry commonly referenced a local water shed; hence the company name “Buffalo” was taken from the Buffalo River flowing through Wilkinson County.
A. Kent Van Cleave
In early 1965, Kent acquired a building for his office from St. Regis across the highway from their Crosby, MS mill which also housed a Texaco station and a small gasoline and oil distributorship. Shortly afterward, in keeping with the “Buffalo” name, Buffalo Services, Inc. was founded on May 17, 1965 by Kent and Nancy Van Cleave. Buffalo Services sold 96,000 gallons of gasoline during their first year in operation; a volume easily surpassed in 24 hours today. As Buffalo Wood began to require more of Kent’s time, D. Ross Partridge was hired in 1969 as General Manager to run the operations of the Buffalo Services gasoline business.
Rapid growth came about as the result of the acquisition of Texaco petroleum bulk plants and service station properties in Bude and Natchez in 1974. A purchase from Max Thornhill in 1975 made Buffalo Services a Texaco jobber in the McComb and Brookhaven area and, with the 1984 purchase of Lawrence Oil Company in McComb, became a Chevron distributor. Subsequently, Texaco bulk plant operations at 747 South Broadway moved to the more modern Chevron facility at 214 E. Presley Boulevard. A Texaco distributorship was purchased in Norwood, LA in 1988 and a 1995 Texaco plant and property acquisition from Simmons Oil in Columbia, MS expanded company holdings east toward the Hattiesburg area. Buffalo Services acquired a Shell jobbership in 2001.
W. Clifton Van Cleave, son of A. Kent and Nancy Van Cleave, graduated from Ole Miss in 1986 and was employed by Harris Lanier in Jackson, MS until 1988 when he accepted a position with Johnson & Johnson, Ortho Pharmaceutical. W. Clifton Van Cleave, son of A. Kent and Nancy Van Cleave, graduated from Ole Miss in 1986 and was employed by Harris Lanier in Jackson, MS until 1988 when he accepted a position with Johnson & Johnson, Ortho Pharmaceutical. Clifton left Ortho in 1991 to join his father at Buffalo Services as B-Kwik Supervisor.
W. Clifton Van Cleave
Clifton purchased the company stock and became CEO in 2001 following his father’s death in 1999. Mr. Partridge retired as President in 2005.
Today the company owns and operates 14 Chevron, Texaco and Shell branded convenience stores as B-Kwik Food Marts located in McComb, Brookhaven, Natchez, Liberty, Centreville, Gloster, Columbia, MS and Vidalia, LA. Stores in Natchez, Centreville, Gloster and Brookhaven offer home-style delis. The McComb store offers TCBY.
Five company-owned and operated transport and multiple bobtail trucks convey Texaco, Chevron, Shell and unbranded fuels to 14 Mississippi counties and 5 Louisiana parishes. Kevin Matthew, Bulk Plant Manager, along with the assistance of office clerk, Dianne Daniels, handles the company operations in McComb, Brookhaven and Columbia. The Centreville and Natchez Divisions are led by Lane McCarty, Bulk Plant Manager, assisted by office clerks, Angi Sharp and Melanie Hawthorne. In addition, the company leases various company-owned convenience stores to dealers and supplies fuel to multiple branded and independent stores, individuals and consumer accounts across southwest Mississippi and Louisiana.
In May 2006, the company began renovation of its vacant Texaco bulk plant at 747 South Broadway, McComb, with Clark Construction as general contractor. Several outbuildings located on the property were believed to have been Mott Cabinet Shop in the early 1900’s which subsequently became Meredith Milling Company in mid-1950. Demolition of these buildings confirmed they were constructed of 200-300 year old virgin heart pine timbers. The square nails were removed before the timbers were planed and tongue-and-grooved for use in the renovation process. The administrative office was relocated from Crosby to this location in December, 2006.
Benjamin C. Van Cleave
Administrative staff includes W. Clifton Van Cleave, President/CEO; Benjamin Van Cleave, Director of Operations; Kyle Smith, CFO; Deborah Cormier and Eric Dunbar, District Managers; Jackie Stacy, Executive Assistant; Stephanie Lopez and Lisa Alexander, Information Technology & Price Book; Janice Phelps, Payroll/Human Resources; Anita Hilton, Accounts Payable; Francis Ferrell, Auditor; and Tammy Burnette, Fuel Management. Ridge Partridge and Edwin Temple provide environmental services; Byron Bacot and Ronnie Dunaway provide B-Kwik maintenance; and Alfred Austin provides bulk plant maintenance.
Buffalo Services currently employs over 150 employees, providing a positive economic impact in Southwest Mississippi.