Colonial Group Celebrates 100 Years in Business
Wednesday, June 16th, 2021
Savannah-based Colonial Group Inc. is preparing to mark a major milestone in the company’s history. On July 21, 2021, Colonial will be celebrating 100 years in business.
“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 and during his tenure as president and CEO, was responsible for much of the growth that led to the development of the company’s ten 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.”
Today, Colonial Group is one of America’s largest privately-held companies and has 10 active subsidiaries. Colonial operates in numerous states, employs over 2,000 people, spans diverse business sectors and continues to grow in the markets it serves.
The company plans to observe its 100th anniversary over the next several months with several activities and events. Among them are:
• A historical marker is being developed in cooperation with the Georgia Historical Society to be erected on Charlton St. in Savannah’s Historic Landmark District, near where 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 2000-strong workforce, also known as the Colonial family, 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 a subsidiary company known as Interstate Stations 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 over 129 locations.
• The business has continued to operate as a privately held family company under the chairmanships of its founder, Raymond Demere; his son, Robert H. Demere Sr.; and his son, Robert H. Demere Jr. Currently, Christian B. Demere is the company CEO and president, marking the fourth generation of family management.
“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.”
For more information about Colonial’s history and milestones, visit https://colonialgroupinc.com/about/history/