Herman Erickson was one of seven sons born to Swedish
immigrant parents. During the
1920's, he started in business by trading his farm for a general store. Though
Erickson focused on groceries and general merchandising throughout his career,
the way he joined his brothers in purchasing a bankrupt refinery. Which, in the
the Great Depression of the 1930's, the family dismantled and reassembled in
Minnesota. The refinery was renamed Northwestern Refining Company.
Although the refinery was sold in 1970 to Ashland, the operation sparked an
fuel retailing. In 1950, Herman Erickson and his son Claire Erickson purchased
gas station in Red Wing, Minnesota.
(Sioux Falls, South Dakota in the 1950's)
In 1981 a decision was made to split off the petroleum
operations from the grocery operations.
Claire and his son, David, already a full-time member of the family firm, had
little to fall back on
except their business knowledge and good name. Yet it proved to be enough. By
convenience store operations had grown into a wholly owned subsidiary, Freedom
In recent years, Erickson Oil also has switched from an exclusively rural
operation to a chain that
serves metropolitan and suburban markets. By placing 40 percent of the stores in
urban areas and
the remainder in rural locations, David believes, "Our company benefits from the
diversity. When some markets are down, others are up, so it averages out our
margins and keeps