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State of Community Dinner: Business of the year award

Flyers has supported Auburn for decades

By: Gloria Young, Reporter
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State of the Community Dinner

  • When: Cocktails 6 p.m., dinner at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 7
  • Where: The Ridge Golf Club and Events Center,  2020 Golf Course Road, Auburn
  • Admission: $50 per person
  • More information and tickets: auburnchamber.net

A company that has anchored its success in Auburn for nearly four decades is the Auburn Chamber of Commerce’s Business of the Year.

Flyers Energy LLC will be recognized at the State of the Community Dinner on Sept. 7.

“Tom Dwelle of Flyers (then Nella Oil) moved their billing operations to Auburn and contributed millions in sales tax dollars to the City’s General Fund over the last 10-12 years,” Auburn Chamber President Keith Nesbitt said in an email. “They sponsor a lot of events in Auburn, they promote aviation and aviation-related events, and are active in protecting our airport.”

The Chamber’s Business of the Year is presented annually to recognize businesses that have had a longterm positive impact on the city and community.

“We are very honored by the award and proud to be members of the Auburn community,” Managing Partner Walt Dwelle said in an email.

The business, owned by four brothers — Tom, Steve, Walt and David Dwelle, had modest beginnings.

“When we formed Flyers in 1979, we purchased seven broken down gas stations, two of which were in Auburn and the office was located in the lube bay of a station in Marysville,” managing partner Walt Dwelle said in an email. “When Tom got out of the Air Force and wanted to join the company, he thought Auburn would be much nicer place to live and do business than Marysville. He was definitely right.”

One of the original Auburn gas stations, known as Crazy Harry’s, was on Interstate 80. The other, called the The Big Dummy, was on Highway 49, David Dwelle said.

“It made sense location-wise to move the office from Marysville to Auburn,” he said in an email. “The real reason is because I love to ski and Auburn was close to skiing. It also had the best weather, being above the fog and below the snow. And there was a house at one of the gas stations that could be used as an office in Auburn. Having an airport that is relatively unaffected by weather for most of the year also contributed to that decision.” 

The airport is still key. Aviation is close to the heart of all four of the Flyers owners. All are pilots. Two were military pilots. It is fitting that in 2011, Nella Oil Company officially became Flyers Energy, LLC. Walt and Steve Dwelle live in Visalia, where they were all raised. The four-hour drive between Visalia and Auburn is made into a much shorter trip by air, Marketing Manager Chris Haven said in the email.  

Today, Flyers Energy, LLC operations include transportation, commercial fueling on the CFN (Commercial Fueling Network), Voyager and Pacific Pride networks, distribution of Mobil brand passenger car, heavy duty and industrial lubricants, supply of wholesale and branded fuel, and generation of renewable fuels and power in the United States. Flyers is a marketer for Chevron, Shell, Valero and 76 branded fuel stations and is the largest participant on the CFN. It is is an owner or partner in renewable energy projects, including more than 100 commercial solar installations, two ethanol production facilities, a cattle-waste digester, and an award-winning biogas pipeline that turns dairy waste into energy. Over the last year, Flyers has diversified by investing in other industries, including commercial office buildings, mobile home parks, a hotel and the Quick Quack car wash chain, Haven said. 

The brothers have enjoyed having Auburn as the company headquarters.

“Auburn is a fabulous community with a tremendous history and spirit,” Walt Dwelle said. “It has a very business friendly environment and is a great place from which to draw talent and provides an excellent place for our team members to reside and raise their families. Since we love airplanes, the airport has very nice capabilities and provides us a good base to reach out business operations all over the country. We are not fans of big city congestion or fog and Auburn has neither, yet it’s close enough to Sacramento to provide us with those amenities when we choose to use them.”

Flyers’ philanthropic endeavors include supporting the Special Olympics of Northern California for more than 20 years.

“One of the reasons we focus our fundraising and donations on Special Olympics is that Flyers team members can personally participate in Special Olympics events,” company CEO Rick Teske said in the email.
Internally, Flyers has a formal program for team members to request donations to organizations they care about. In addition, they sponsor events and frequently give donations to customers — usually for their charitable endeavors or their own employee events, Haven said.