SAVANNAH, Ga. — Colonial Group Inc., parent company to Enmarket, is marking 100 years in business on July 21.
A fourth-generation family-owned business founded in 1921, Colonial Group is a diversified energy and port-related company headquartered in Savannah. It is one of America's largest privately held companies, has 10 active subsidiaries, operates in numerous states, employs more than 2,000 people, spans diverse business sectors, and continues to grow in the markets it serves.
"When my grandfather, Raymond McAllister Demere, returned to Savannah after serving with distinction in World War I, he recognized the need to supply fuel for the new internal combustion engines powering vehicles replacing the horse and buggy," said Robert H. Demere, Jr., chairman. "He established the company that would become Colonial Group in 1921 and built his first service station in 1923 at the corner of Drayton and Charlton."
Demere Jr. represents the company's third generation of family leadership. During his tenure as president and CEO, he was responsible for much of the growth that led to the development of the company’s 10 current divisions. Now, both of his sons, Christian and Houstoun, are continuing the legacy as fourth-generation leaders.
"There were three generations and 100 years of leadership before me," said Christian Demere, president and CEO. "Over the years there has been a lot of effort and sacrifice by many people to get the company where it is today. It’s a collective effort across the entire team of employees at Colonial and I take great comfort and pride in knowing how many incredible people we have that support the company."
Colonial Group plans to observe its 100th anniversary over the next several months with activities and events. Among them are:
- A historical marker is being developed in cooperation with the Georgia Historical Society to be erected on Charlton Street in Savannah’s Historic Landmark District near Colonial’s first service station was located at 342 Drayton St.
- A 100th anniversary book is being compiled to include historical information about the company and the Demere family. Like the company, the family has served the Savannah community for multiple generations. Captain Raymond Demere landed at Savannah in 1735 to assist General James Edward Oglethorpe in protecting the Colony of Georgia from Spanish invasion.
Additionally, a commemorative logo has been designed and will be used for several years to observe the company’s centennial of service.
Throughout Colonial Group's year-long observances, members of its workforce, will reflect on the milestones achieved over the past 100 years, which include:
- In 1934, construction began for a deep-water terminal on a 21-acre tract of land which was the beginning of the present Colonial Terminals.
- In 1964, Colonial launched Interstate Stations, a subsidiary company, for the operation of retail service stations. Now known as Enmarket, it is Savannah’s largest convenience store chain and spans Georgia and the Carolinas with more than 128 locations.
"We are grateful to be part of a family business that has served the Savannah community for many generations," Demere said. "Colonial Group has led the way as an invaluable steward in the communities where it conducts business and the Demere family is dedicated to demonstrating a continued commitment to giving back through charitable contributions and volunteer efforts in the years to come."